Albums of the year: Electronica

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The Independent Culture

Depending on which side you approached it from, Caribou's Swim was either the most snake-hipped indie record you heard all year, or the most appealingly fuzzy-edged house album.

It would have been the outright winner in the indie-dance category during any year in which LCD Soundsystem didn't release an LP. But instead, there is This is Happening: another effortless fusion of smart art-rock and throbbing punk-funk. Four Tet's There is Love in You was a typically filigreed assemblage of beats and samples, and Gold Panda's Lucky Shiner essayed a similar mix of shimmering melody and urgent beats.

More than one act went to explore the farther reaches of the sonic cosmos. Cosmogramma, by Alice Coltrane's nephew, Flying Lotus, is a majestic platter of electro-psychedelia. And The Archandroid by Janelle Monae, flits lightly between hip-hop, orchestral music and afrofuturist funk.

2010 was also the year dubstep was fully welcomed into the mainstream. The self-titled album by the genre's first supergroup, Magnetic Man, is 80 per cent pure pop, while the restlessly inventive Crooks and Lovers by Mount Kimbie and the downright avant-garde Splazsh by Actress get called dubstep because we simply don't know how else to describe them.

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