– 25th of February 2021 –

Electronica Contemporanea is a playlist curated by Viktor Benev. It's purpose is to propose the listener an introduction or to enrich his knowledge about artists creating in the electronica genre where musical craft, sound design, technology and intelligence interact.

#1 - Viktor Benev - Papillon de Nuit

The only composition of mine on this playlist. It's taken from my debut solo album Motions in circuits. Sampled acoustic instruments, synthesizers and field recordings interact in a sound / noise dialogue. It's conceived as a chamber ensemble piece, in which the instruments are added systematically to create different amalgamates of timbers playing the main theme, until the climax near the end arrives, where the whole ensemble plays together. The moment when the caterpillar evolves to a butterfly.

#2 - Floex - Petr Parler

Floex is a clarinetist, composer, producer and multimedia artist from Czech Republic. He's craftily combining written material, simple beautiful melodies, field recordings with lush harmonies and atmospheric textures. Apart from his personal albums, he got widely renown for the Sound Tracks of Amanita Design games, like Machinarium and the Samorost series.

#3 - Ametsub - Peaks Far Afield

Ametsub is a Japanese producer who works with field recordings, glitch sound processing and from 2017 on, plays a custom-made instrument - the Array Mbira. Peaks Far Afield is a piece from his album Nothings of the North, which has received the praise of the world-wide acclaimed Japanese art-pop and neo-classical pianist and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto 坂本龍一, who described Ametsub's work as one of the best albums released in 2009.

#4 - Proem - Cold Water (flat)

Proem is the moniker of Richard Bailey, an Indiana-born, American electronic music producer. Starting off with pre-computer gear for sound manipulation and further on experimenting with computer technology, his sound world is somewhere in-between the analog and digital. Cold Water is a piece from the album Negativ, released in 2001 by Merck Records. Similar to the previous piece by Ametsub, it is based, to a great extend, on glitch sound processing techniques.

#5 - Kettel - Hulio

Reimer Eising a.k.a. Kettel is a Groningen-based Dutch composer and producer. His eclectic style brings together various music genres under the wing of the electronica. Sampled words, piano-based preludes, 80s games sounds, slowly-evolving ambient structures, vivid electronic beats are some of the recurring elements in his work. He has recorded for the labels Planet Mu (OFFICIAL) and Clone Records. The track I've selected is taken from the album Wingtip and is a release signed Clone Records, dating from 2016.

#6 - Cepia - Hoarse

Cepia is a Minnesota-based bassist and producer. The person behind this pseudonym is Huntley Miller. An amalgam of complex rhythms, clicks, drones, well composed structures, all of these elements collide to create the sound of Cepia. A recording artist for Ghostly International. Hoarse is taken from the album Natura Morta and dates from 2007.

#7 - Dikolson - Y

Filip Míšek is another prodigious composer and producer from Czech Republic who's mainly writing music for films, theaters and dance. Under the pseudonym Dikolson, he has released his debut album The Bear Is Sleeping Now in 2011 (Minority records), an album which brings together many collaborators, as well as a large array of musical genres, which beautifully align in Míšek's creative sound world.

#8 - Yosi Horikawa - Vietnam

Yosi Horikawa is known for his creative use of field recordings. Animals, noises, natural sounds, industrial sounds, all collide to form the unique sound of this Japanese producer. Apart receiving good reviews about his personal music, Horikawa is also being more and more recognized as a wonderful sound engineer with knowledge about building speakers and well acoustically treated recording studios. Vietnam is taken from his latest album Spaces, released in May 2019.

#9 - Daisuke Tanabe - Paper Planes

Daisuke Tanabe is another Japanese producer who's closely involved with the producer of the previous track on the playlist - Yosi Horikawa. Tanabe is working mostly with sampling techniques, glitchy sounds, creative use of tempo variations and his music is often marked by joyful melodies and celestial atmospheric textures. Paper Planes is taken from his 2014 album Floating Underwater. He's involved in productions for many labels including Knowmad Records, Ki Records, Dancing Turtle Records. In 2019, Horikawa and Tanabe have founded their own independent label Borrowed Scenery.

#10 - Axel Rigaud - Rush

Axel Rigaud is a French composer, producer and saxophone player. He was mainly involved with jazz before starting to create in the electronica genre. These references can be heard throughout his music where complex harmonies and melodies interact with the cold precision of the analog and modular synthesizers. Axel has released an EP under the moniker of Le Tarsier in 2015. The track I chose - Rush, is taken from his debut album using his own name - Transformation, released in 2018 on n5MD records.

#11 - Lusine - Gravity

Lusine is the stage name of Jeff McIlwain, Texas-born, Seattle-based American producer. Lusine's sound signature lies in the recurring use of sampled voices combined with analog synths and atmospheric textures. While most of his work is electronica oriented and often in collaboration with singers, he's also involved in the ambient scene. Gravity is taken from his 2009 album A Certain Distance, released on Ghostly International, his main label.

#12 - Isan - Ship

Isan is a duo founded by Robin Saville & Antony Ryan. They've met in England where Saville's currently living and working. After Ryan moved to Denmark they've been collaborating regularly from a distance between the two countries. Their music is characterized by an extended work in the entire frequency range, from the warm lows to the celestial sounding highs. They employ lots of sound processing, tempo variations, surprising rhythmical changes, ambient textures and sequences. Basically, they tend to experiment with the whole array of sound possibilities. Ship is taken from their 2006 album Plan Drawn in Pencil, the title of which gives as a little hint about their work process.

#13 - Plaid - Held

Plaid is a duo from the United Kingdom, formed by Andy Turner and Ed Handley. The band's sound is a display of the vast music culture of the two musicians, who draw inspiration from almost pop-oriented structures, progressive rock harmonies, simple memorable melodies, which are often beautifully embellished by warm synthesizer sounds. Apart from their personal creations, they're known to have worked with people like Björk or Portishead. Plaid is signed at Warp Records. Held is taken from their 2016 album The Digging Remedy.

#14 - Floex - Lianas

I couldn't resist not adding a second piece by Floex. This one is from the sound track of the Samorost 3 game by Amanita Design. The full potential of Tomáš Dvořák's work can be heard not only in his personal productions, but also in making moving images even more alive by sound designing beautiful textures, working with voice-over actors, using rare instruments like the Chinese Erhu or various flutes and objects, working creatively with interaction between the scenes and the actions in the game.

#15 - Autechre - Overand

Autechre is another British electronic duo comprised of Rob Brown and Sean Booth. They're one of the main acts in the roster of Warp Records. Creating since 1987 their music have taken many turns, so I wouldn't label it here, but they are on this list, because I think their work fits my vision of the electronica genre. Glitch sounds, ambient textures, synthesizers, acid bass lines, sounds that follow algorithmic evolution, Autechre has many influences and just as many creative decisions. Overand is from their 1995 album Tri Repetae.

#16 - Richard Devine - Anemap

Richard Devine is an Atlanta-born American sound designer and electronic music producer. He's also one of the greatest master minds of modular synthesis, sought by all the companies that build modular components to test their creations and collaborate. He has designed a great amount of patches for virtual and analog synthesizers and have greatly expanded the horizon of possibilities using modular synthesizers. Anemap is from his 2018 album Sort/Lave on the label Time Sig.

#17 - Mika Vainio - Ikuinen (alternative version)

Mika Vainio, also known as Ø, was a Finnish composer, electronic music producer and member of the duo Pan Sonic. He is known for his minimalistic approach to electronic music. The usage of repetitions, complex rhythmic counterpoints (more often used in contemporary music) and regularly heavy processed synthesizer sounds delve the listener into a close-to-trance state. He has made various collaborations with musicians sharing the same views on music creation. Ikuinen is a single from 2007, released on Sahko Recordings. It has two different versions. I thought the alternative take fits better in the playlist, but I invite you to listen the other one too. They're both beautiful in their own way.

#18 - Kangding Ray - Odd Sympathy

Kangding Ray is a Berlin-based, French musician, DJ and producer, whose real name is David Letellier. Part of the roster of the German label for minimal techno music Raster (formerly Raster-Noton, which are now two separate labels) his music is dance-oriented, but keeps a beautiful and clean frequency architecture, a characteristic that marks practically all of the music signed on that label. Odd Sympathy is taken from his 2011 album OR. Ray has started his own label Ara in 2019.

#19 - Jan Jelinek - Western Mimikry

Jan Jelinek is a German composer of electronic music. His sound world has gained popularity for his creative use of samples of jazz recordings from the 60s and 70s and combining them with warm synthesized bass tones and glitch techniques. He has recorded for Klang Elektronik until 2008, at which time he has started his own label Faitiche. Western Mimikry is taken from his 2005 album Kosmicher Pitch.

#20 - Seking - Luma

Senking official is another artist from the roster of the German label Raster. The composer Jens Massel (the man behind the pseudonym) was born in Köln and is working in the area of minimal electronic music with a center around the low frequencies. His music is mainly in down-tempos and its colours are darkly and mystical. Luma features vibraphone sounds (a rare treat for Senking's music) and is taken from his 2010 album Pong.

#21 - Shigeto - Soul Searching

Shigeto is Zachary Saginaw's moniker, a Japanese producer and DJ, based in Detroit, Michigan. His work combines live drumming and live manipulated samples of different synthesized sounds, field recordings and percussion instruments. Always leaning on atmospheric ambiences, his music is rhythmical, beat-driven and harmonic all together, drawing on influences from genres like jazz, hip-hop, funk and ambient. Soul Searching is from his 2013 album No Better Time Than Now, released on Ghostly International, his main label.

#22 - aus - Fake Five

aus is the pseudonym of Yasuhiko Fukuzono, who's an electronic music producer and owner/curator of the label FLAU. aus' music is melodic, atmospheric, more often than not - non-rhythmical and meditative with ambient influences, but also sensitive to little noises, which are well integrated in the compositions. Fake Five is from his 2009 album After All.

#23 - El Kid - 89

El Kid is the moniker of Sam Kidel, a Bristol-based UK producer, tutor and composer. Kidel has composed music for theater plays, documentaries, fashion shows and performances. His work is drawing influences from different electronic music sub-genres and his home town's experimental scene. He also works as a teacher at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in Bristol. He has recorded for several independent labels, such as Immerse, Astro.Dynamics and NoCorner. 89 is taken from the 2011 album released in collaboration with Vessel - VeElSkSiEdL.

#24 - Vessel - Aries

Vessel is the moniker of Sebastian Gainsborough, Bristol-based UK composer and producer. Vessel's music is characterized by his use of detuned instruments and synthesizers, industrial sounds and darkly atmospheres. He has recorded for Tri Angel Records, Astro.Dynamics, Erased Tapes and Left Blank. Aries is taken from his 2012 album Order of Noise.

#25 - Tycho - Past is Prologue

Tycho is Scott Hansen, California-born American producer and graphic designer. Ambient and atmospheric textures align with natural sounds to create the base of Tycho's music, which then interact with acoustic/electric instruments in repetitive, yet always changing compositional structures. Between written and improvised material, Tycho creates beautiful live shows with a band that's been formed in 2010. Past is Prologue is taken from his 2006 eponymous album, released on Gammaphone Records and re-released on Merck Records. Tycho has also recorded for Ghostly International and Ninja Tune.

#26 - Synkro - Memory

Synkro is Joe McBride, electronic music producer from Manchester, UK. Synkro's style lies in the mixture of various sub-genres of the electronic music, keeping always a rather open, airy mood by using all the array of sources available - analog synths, samples, field recordings. His music often relies on sampling voices - sometimes spoken words, sometimes just phrases or sang melodies here and there, which beautifully embellish his generally positive music. A recordings artist for Apollo Records, Deep Heads, Smokin' Heads and PLUS. Memory is taken from his 2017 album Memories (2008-2011), released by the first of the listed labels.

#27 - Hector Zazou - Zannat

Hector Zazou is the moniker of Pierre Job, an Algerian-born French producer, known for his vast international collaboration projects with artists like Björk, Ryuichi Sakamoto 坂本龍一, Jon Hassel, Brian Eno, Jane Birkin and even Gerard Depardieu among others. It would be impossible to put his music in the conformity of music genres, as his creative spirit was the main guide for his works. As he was mainly using samples and electronics to add his personal touch to his productions, I want to add him to this playlist, because he's an example of how wide the electronica genre could be. He had an extremely fine taste and ear for putting together people who had, at first sight, nothing in common in terms of references or culture, except music, and adding the flavors needed to blend them perfectly well together. He has recorded most of his albums for Crammed Discs, although he had productions for Elen Music, Radio France, RCA, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music and others. Zannat is taken from his 2008 album In The House of Mirros, in collaboration with Swara.

#28 - Jojo Mayer & Nerve - New Moon

Jojo Mayer / Nerve is a Swiss-born, New York-based drummer, mentor and producer. He has been revolutionizing the acoustic drum kit for decades by using a technique he calls "reversed engineering", which in his case would be best described as taking electronic music as a source of inspiration and meticulously analyzing it, especially rhythm-wise and learning how to play that on a real drum kit, within the physical limits of the body. His band Nerve (current line-up : John Davis - bass guitar + FX, Jacob Bergson - keyboards and programming and Aaron Nevezie - live engineering) could be described as a contemporary jazz quartet, but one that makes electronic music. Based on improvisation and interaction on the moment they create electronic music that's enriched by the human mind, its imperfections, but also creativity and instant reactivity to the surrounding sounds and band member's decisions. His project is definitely the most organic in terms of creating electronic music. Most, if not all, of the compositions they've recorded are taken out of their improvisations in their studio or during the series of events Jojo Mayer has been organizing in New York between 1996 and 2001, called Prohibited Beatz. New Moon is from their 2019 album Lunar Tribute, released, as all of their albums, by Analog Native Records.

#29 - Tilman Ehrhorn - Task

Tilman Ehrhorn was born in Braunschweig, Germany and is a saxophone/reed player, composer, sound designer and producer. Now based in Berlin, where he also teaches in the SRH Berlin School of Popular Arts, Ehrhorn is extensively involved in writing scores for TV, radio, big bands and ensembles. He has also collaborated with some of the most well-known jazz musicians including Wayne Shorter, Brian Blade, Maria Schneider. He started his electronic music project with the release of his first solo album Task on Mille Plateaux (official) back in 2003. His music is based on sampling various sound sources with a main influence - the glitch music genre. His compositions are very musical, with a very well crafted structures. He creatively uses improvisation to add elements of surprise. I've chosen his lead title from the album Task.

#30 - alva noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto - Moon

alva noto is the moniker of Carsten Nicolai, a German visual artist, graphic designer, electronic music producer and owner of the label NOTON. The two German labels Raster-media (run by Olaf Bender) and NOTON, sharing common visions about electronic music, worked together from 1999 until 2017 when Nicolai took his own artistic direction. NOTON has since been releasing all of alva noto's works, currently at its 49th production. alva noto's sound world is based on research on the reaction of the human's perception to specific sound frequencies, which he uses to create his music. His compositions are influenced by minimal art. Apart from his sound works, noto also creates all the visuals for his live shows, working in a similar direction - human's perception on color and forms.

Ryuichi Sakamoto 坂本龍一 is a Japanese pianist, producer and composer. He's a Grammy, Oscar and 2 Golden Globe awards winner. He's been involved with electronic music since early age working with the Yellow Magic Orchestra, meanwhile persuing a solo career. He's been writing music for films, anime, video games and for the Olympics in 1992. His collaboration with alva noto has started by exchanging recordings, which quite quickly resulted in a series of albums.

Moon is taken from their 2005 album called Insen.