The best music of 2012: Electronica


“Dubstep” became an even dirtier word in 2012, because of its synonymity with that wobba-wobba-wob noise to which the US mainstream has so unexpectedly taken.

But, even if we prefer not to call them dubstep, many of the year's most adventurous records – from the crystalline shards of sound on Actress's R.I.P., to the late-night lullabies of Held by Holy Other – can at least be said to fall under the category of “bass music”.

On Luxury Problems, Manchester's Andy Stott smeared industrial rumble together with woozy house rhythms and the angelic murmurs of vocalist Alison Skidmore, to almost physical effect. On a lavish release comprising the five-part Music for the Quiet Hour suite as well the three Drawbar Organ EPs, Shackleton explored the further reaches of dubby sonics, skittering drumbeats and Eastern mysticism. Mala introduced some sunnier vibes to his dubstep on the intricate and yet consistently funky Mala in Cuba.

Meanwhile, on the poppier side of the street, Kill for Love by Chromatics, evolved from an abandoned score for the Ryan Gosling film Drive, is at least as achingly sad as it is achingly cool. And Grimes' vocal exuberance and magpie insouciance made her future-pop Visions seem like something we'd all like to share.