The best of Australian electronic music in 2020 – a year of collaboration and togetherness

The best of Australian electronic music in 2020 – a year of collaboration and togetherness

Love Above Records
Words by Sam Howard

Spotlighting some of the best local compilations and mix series to emerge this year.

It’s been a little quiet from the electronic side of Australia’s vibrant music scene, with dancefloors being cancelled and boogieing considered illegal for the best part of the year. But despite 2020 attempting to decimate the scene, the community ethos has shined through in other ways. If this year taught us anything, it’s that nothing will stop the creativity, the rich supportive growing network and the countless collaborations emerging despite all odds.

Two major themes were born this year as events got put on hold – compilations, featuring some of the most talented local producers, and some incredibly creative mix series’ unearthed to support the exceptional talent in the scene. Here are a few highlights of the year.

COVID Comp – Morgan Wright for Brekstacy (Skylab)

How do you make a global pandemic and fixation with COVID case numbers anything other than a terrible experience? By releasing a compilation series featuring productions that must contain the BPM of how many case numbers were recorded that day.

Skylab’s Nick Saw came up with the idea to produce a song with the same BPM as new cases but was struggling to get people onboard, so Morgan Wright volunteered and produced a new track for 11 consecutive weeks. Wright was working in mental health experiencing the full brunt of the COVID-chaos, so the series became a therapeutic creative endeavour allowing him to focus on COVID in a different light.

The result is COVID Comp, a compilation with great tracks ranging from dub to spacey ambience. Oh, and the accompanying merch on Bandcamp is sick too.

Get your hands on the COVID Comp merch here.

LAD004 – Locked in the House – Love Above Records

When DJ Ingrid and Ryan Berkeley decided to release a compilation album that would feature some of the best local talent they could find, saying they were overwhelmed by the quality of local artists would be an understatement.

Released under the house music label, Love Above Records, Locked in the House is a mammoth 16-track release appreciating house music in all its forms. From dreamy breaks to UK Garage, the release features excellent productions from Primitive Needs, Kayroy & Friend, Delonte Rivers, DJ Chrysalis, Zepherin Saint, Marli, Baby G, Dawn Again, Priya, D. Tyrone, Dos-Play feat. Cinta, Hobbimann, Mr. Pitiful, Colkin and Mousse.

The compilation reminds us that talented music lovers and producers are everywhere within our local communities.

Check out our Beats by Beat feature on Love Above Records here.

Space Cast – Bec Armstrong

Bec Armstrong, aka Bex, is a multifaceted artist who puts deep passion into every creative execution. Bex wanted to create a mix series that allows us to slow down, relax, and create more space, both physically and mentally following a harsh year.

Space Cast is a series focusing on exchanging both music and art – artists will produce an ambient and experimental mix, while Bex, also a talented painter, produces an original piece of art in response to the music created. All profits earned from the artworks will go straight back to the artists involved. The series is a way for the community to be supported when so much was lost this year.

Find out more about Space Cast here.

Fluxx Vol. 1 – Fluxx

Rather than dwell on what was lost this year, Fluxx, made up of Ruby (RBI), Jac (House Mum) and Elle (Yollks), decided to put all their energy from running club nights into curating a compilation that would champion emerging DJs and producers who identity as people of colour, gender non-conforming, queer or femme.

The result of their efforts is a timeless release featuring 29 banging tracks highlighting Naarm’s endless pool of talent, from Georgia Bird, DAWS, Other Joe, Felicity Yang, Corin, SLAM ROSS 1000, Sig Nu Gris, Lara K, Grace Ferguson, Lily Tait, Aarti Jadu, Imogen Cygler, Lupa J, Pa’u Prince and many more.

Check out our Beats by Beat feature with Fluxx here.

At Cloud’s Length – WAT Artists

An ode to the use of cloud storage as the last front of musical collaboration during lockdown, At Cloud’s Length is another quality release coming out of a community forced to be apart.

The compilation, released by local favourites WAT Artists, was created as a means to use isolation as a parameter to birth new music, rather than block out creative collaboration and community.

The release features collaborations between 30/70 and Alex Albrecht, Fantastic Man, Adam Halliwell and Edd Fisher, Loure and Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange, Kris Baha and Morgan Wright, Rings Around Saturn and Sui Zhen, Barney McAll and Bell Tower and a few others.

Find out more about WAT Artists here.

PROXIMITY – Pure Space

Andy Garvey and the team at Pure Space have always used their existing platforms as a way to champion and propel new and emerging artists across the country. PROXIMITY is the exciting result of a collaboration between 18 great artists, producing everything from gentle piano to techno, to industrial and experimental.

Artists include Female Wizard and SLAM ROSS 1000, RBI, Third Space, cdot, Mosam Howieson, Nali, E Davd, Rings Around Saturn, Lara K, PMA, DBR, KiTA and a bunch of others, with 100% of the compilation’s proceeds going directly to Aboriginal Legal Services.

Keep up to date with Pure Space at their Facebook page.

Mugshot Mixtapes – Acid Chess Club

Isolation was undeniably an intensely difficult time for us all, as we were forced to be disconnected from family and friends for months on end.

To overcome the distance between friends, James Benjamin, aka Acid Chess Club, started a pick-me-up mix series with a twist – artists produce a mix dedicated to a friend, and have to contribute an accompanying illustration to go along with it.

The result is a collection of fun mixes and somewhat hilarious drawings to remind us that friendship can never be limited, despite how outrageous our social distancing rules were.

Check out our Beats by Beat feature with Acid Chess Club here.

VA001 – Colour Club Records

Opening a fresh new club in Melbourne’s inner-city and being forced to close the doors shortly after was heartbreaking for Liam Alexander and Benny Rausa to say the least.

VA001 emerged as a way to showcase the diverse range of sounds that would have frequented the dancefloors of Colour Club throughout 2020. From jazz to fusion to early morning trance, the two-sided release features late night live music on the orange side that would have featured on the top floor of the club, while the second side of blue features the early morning dance music traditional to the downstairs blue space of the venue.

Productions include Proto Moro, John Henderson, Messy Mammals, Kevin McDowell, Mount Liberation Unlimited, Gallery B, Furious Frank, Escape Artist and Morgan Wright.

Check out the Colour Club Records’ Bandcamp page here.

Keen on another end-of-year list? Check out our piece on the 30 best albums to come out Melbourne in 2020 – part one.

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