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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Best CDs of 1997

By Marc Weidenbaum

  1. Chiastic Slide Autechre (Warp) Arid yet fanciful, Autechre (Sean Booth and Rob Brown) rebukes the suggestion that machines must be “humanized” in order for them to sing.

  2. Autoditacker Mouse on Mars (Thrill Jockey) Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner construct daydreamy soundtracks for everyday life, impressionist strolls through the Information Age.

  3. Richard D. James Album Aphex Twin (Warp/Sire) The man of many pseudonyms outs himself with a personal, mostly instrumental record, ranging from elegant contemporary classical to Ween-like pranksterism.

  4. Hard Normal Daddy Squarepusher (Warp) Drum’n’bass means staggered, bubbling, relentlessly shifting; Tom (Squarepusher) Jenkinson is among its foremost dealers.

  5. Delivery Scanner (Rawkus/Primitive) Robin (Scanner) Rimbaud lifts intimate moments from unguarded portable phones, and ups their emotional intensity with improvisatory de facto soundtracks.

  6. Soothing Sounds for Baby, Vol. 1 Raymond Scott (Basta) As the burgeoning electronic-music community casts back in time for a legacy to claim, it couldn’t have asked for a more eccentric uncle than Scott; this reissue dates from early ’60s.

  7. Lunatic Harness µ-ziq (Astralwerks) The calypso of the recent future.

  8. Matmos Matmos (Vague Terrain) Perhaps the finest debut of the year — experiments in concrete music, sampling, and atmospherics. A minor-key miracle of home taping and sonic construction by Drew Daniel and m.c. Schmidt, aka Matmos. Though the elements seem austere and experimental, all snippets of near-silent effluvia, the results are strangely poppy — at times sounding like like an Oval remix of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Addictive.

  9. Bricolage Amon Tobin (Ninja Tune) Like labelmate Funki Porcini, Tobin unearths drum’n’jungle rhythms in the strangest, most familiar places. (Also check out the followup EP, Piranha Breaks.)

  10. Homogenic Bjork (Elektra) Few have managed to sing atop electronica (actually only a segment of this album) without muffling it.

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