The best electronic music songs of May 2020

Arca, Moodymann, and the return of A.K. Paul round out our list.

May 29, 2020
The best electronic music songs of May 2020 Elysia Crampton by Daria Kobayashi Ritch  

The FADER has rounded up some of the standout tracks released in April from the different worlds of electronic music, organized in no particular order.

Fire-Toolz — “[((Ever-Widening Rings))]”

What initially drew me into the music of Fire-Toolz were the synths. Gaudy and glorious, they’re sounds you’d hear while being put on hold during a phone call to heaven. Of course, Angel Marcloid can also shred like a capital “R” Rocker and her black metal bellows are second to none. Trust me, it makes total sense in context. Marcloid continues to break down genre barriers with an utterly original force: her new album Rainbow Bridge follows last year’s similarly brilliant Field Whispers: Into The Crystal Palace, and “[((Ever-Widening Rings))]” is a searing highlight.

The Soft Pink Truth — "Grace"

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that each of The Soft Pink Truth’s album titles are questions: on each successive project, Drew Daniel sounds like an explorer hitting new dimensions of his artistic potential. Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? is a comparative comedown from the plunderphonics anarchy of Why Pay More? and the libertine death metal rave that was Why Do The Heathen Rage?. The aptly named “Grace” soothes with its processed piano-driven melodies and Four Tet-adjacent techno beat.

Nidia — “Capacidades”

“Capacidades” is by far the most accessible song on Nidia’s wonderful new album Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes. Since her debut in 2015, the Portugeuse producer has matched the critical acclaim for her original compositions with her DJ skills, and “Capacidades” thuds with the life of an illicit party. The snappy, crystal chords of the lead melodies are the perfect contrast to the horns and chopped-up samples of a worked-up selector; no post-quarantine rave will be complete without it.

Elysia Crampton — “Abolition (Infrared)”

This track isn’t necessarily representative of ORCORARA 2010, Crampton’s latest body of work. The album, which originally debuted as part of an art installation, is conceptualized around themes of incarceration, religious violence, and the havoc they continue to wreck even as the events themselves have long faded from collective memory. The project is heady but not unwieldy thanks to spoken word poetry from frequent guest Jeremy Rojas and Crampton’s dense melodic interplay of electronics and acoustic instruments. By comparison, “Abolition (Infrared)” arrives near the album’s end with pure, unvarnished catharsis. Starting off with a wash of electronics and the tantalizing crackling of fire, the song unfurls with the color of the most perfect sunset. If you listen to the full album leading up to this track, the transcendence hits even harder.

Moodymann — “Let Me Show You Love”

An icon of anachronistic cool, Moodymann has been a global ambassador for Detroit’s musical contributions for years. “Let Me Show You Love” reveals specifically how artists like Kaytranada owe a debt to Detroit’s velvet-lined style of house music; Moodymann plays the man of someone’s dreams, his voice pulsing with desire.

Arca — "Time"

On her last song “Nonbinary,” Arca indicated that she was ready to return to her experimental club roots. Her latest track “Time” is a sensuous chimera pulsing with four-on-the-floor and vocals fogged up like a bathroom mirror. There’s a sinister twinkle at the heart of the composition, too; who says tenderness can’t be provocative?

Julianna Barwick — “Inspirit”

A new Julianna Barwick album couldn’t be better timed. Her skill at layering loops of her soaring vocals have made her into an Enya for the DIY set, and the billowing comfort her songs provide is something we all could fall into right now. “Inspirit” reintroduces Barwick’s sound, still stripped-down but no less ready for liftoff.

A.K. Paul — "Hungry Beat"

The first new song from A.K. Paul in nearly four years begins with a voice saying “Let me bake something I wanna eat.” It might seem like a non sequitur at first, but there’s wisdom there: if you wouldn’t consume it, don’t produce it. A.K. and his brother Jai (who together form the Paul Institute) seem to inhabit this mantra, a quality which helps to explain the rabid cult that has developed around their intermittent and meticulous releases. “Hungry Beat” doesn’t reflect the high stakes projected onto it, and is more concerned with having fun in the time-tested waters of the Paul sound than debuting a new direction. That works fine: “Hungry Beat” hits like a Prince demo if the Purple One made beats on a Playstation, complex and unafraid of a sprinkle of kitsch. It makes it easy for just about anyone to dig in.

India Jordan — "I'm Waiting Just For You"

India Jordan’s For You is six tracks of unbridled rave joy; some songs recall the soundtracks for the Playstation 1 Wipeout games, while others can be traced to early Daft Punk, Saint Pepsi, and the Avalanches. Put the album’s first track in the latter camp: it’s a blend of disco samples and basslines seemingly pulled from Sonic The Hedgehog, and never fails to get the serotonin pumping.

Doss "Secret Sky" mix

Porter Robinson’s Secret Sky Festival is the only occasion during quarantine where participating in an online music set has actually felt fun. Maybe it’s because Zoom DJ sets remind me too much of work meetings, but I would much rather be an anonymous bunch of pixels dancing with other clusters in front of a virtual stage, watching a heavily processed YouTube livestream. The highlight of the evening was a set from DOSS (who, full disclosure, is my former co-worker at FADER). The half-hour set is rave perfection with its foot firmly on the gas; it’ll make you pine for any party, even the most flagrantly energy drink sponsored one, but for now your chair, couch, or bed will do just fine.

The best electronic music songs of May 2020