Lists

Top Ten Dance Albums of 2009

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10. Joris Voorn Balance 014 (EQ Recordings)

Joris Voorn spread 102 tracks of other people's music over two discs. More than that, however, he cut, edited and atomized the tracks and re-orchestrated them using Ableton Live software so that the entire composition was essentially his own. This sublime, progressive house and melodic techno isn't recognizable as anything particularly "2009," but the compilation represents an edgy, postmodern blur of sampladelic art. (Hear thirty-second samples of Balance 014)

09. Deadmau5 For Lack of a Better Name (Ultra)

In 2007, Deadmau5 had just a few tracks to his name. Two years later, he's the leader of a new generation of DJs who are as much computer whizzes as musical artists. More than any other album, Lack of a Better Name spanned the dance-floor trends of '09 -- hip-hop dance, tech-trance and crunchy, '80s-flavored electro -- and slotted them in a non-stop DJ mix.

08. Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)

This 2009 Grammy-eligible album (released in late '08) left any doubt about rap's electronic ambitions in the dust. Still, 808s & Heartbreak was more like digital blues than anything you'd hear in a super-club at 3 a.m. West set the studio afire with synths, samples and voice-box lyrics, and he opened dance music's door to a new generation. (Hear thirty-second samples of 808s & Heartbreak.)

07. Gui Boratto Take My Breath Away (Kompakt)

Gui Boratto continued to pump out lush, symphonic, emotive material light years away from the linear sound of typical minimal techno. His instinct is valid: Dance music has to continue to take people beyond the bathroom stalls and bass bins of clubland. Take My Breath Away represents the beautification of the genre.

06. MSTRKRFT Fist of God (Downtown)

Canadian duo MSTRKRFT gave the cool kids what they want -- grinding, "keytar" synths, a punk-rock attitude and plenty of pop references (John Legend, N.O.R.E., and Ghostface Killah make appearances). Despite the pair's hockey-mask appearance and heavy-metal-dance aspirations, Fist of God is surprisingly accessible. Sure, there are headbanging moments ("1,000 Cigarettes"), but there are also tuneful, heartfelt songs ("Heartbreaker," featuring John Legend) that suggest this nu-electro thing could have staying power.

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Dennis Romero has worked on staff at several magazines and newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Los Angeles Times, where he participated in Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the L.A. riots. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone online, the Guardian, and, as a young stringer, the New York Times.
Contact: Dennis Romero