You may have heard that the album as a format is dead, of course like most things you hear, especially when spoken with an air of authority this is absolute grade A horse shit, sure it's looking a little peaky, but there's still plenty of life in the old dog yet.

Whether they like it or not with the exception of the poppiest of pop acts everyone, press, public, labels and bands still need the focus an album provides. Even in the single track focused world of electronic music it's no different, whilst a hardcore minority may be slavishly devoted to the cult of vinyl only EPs, step away from Resident Advisor's forums and for many the album still remains the main attraction.

Just look at both the press coverage and public response to both Daft Punk and Boards of Canada's new album campaigns, actually don't it's been horrible, really really horrible but it does prove a point. Anyway seeing as you can read about those two releases everywhere from NME to Knitting Weekly this month we thought we'd see what other bleepy bloopy long players you should pick up instead.

So assuming that you're not one of those perverts that buys just 1 or 2 albums a year here's a brisk run through of JUST OUT, SOON OUT and OUT A WHILE AGO BUT STILL GOOD albums that you really should check out.


Secret Circuits - Tactile Galactics (Beats In Space)

Saying that if you really do only want to buy one album this year then you could do worse than Tactile Galactics by LA's Secret Circuit, such is its magnificence. A gorgeous album of balearic disco, cosmic house and tropical techno that is unashamedly trippy and like one of those awful fractal patterns full of little details that draw you in deeper and deeper and deeper and…

Anyway where was I… Ah yes, Tactile Galactics proper head music that remembers to move your body at the same time as it gets inside your mind. Whilst second rate rappers bellow cliches about Molly over aggressively heterosexual EuroTrance, this is what drug music should be like, sexy, seductive and expansive on a cosmic scale.

Imagine drifting through nebulae made up of gaseous Pina Coladas, crash landing on palm tree covered asteroids before before watching three suns rise over an alien horizon and you can just begin to get in the state of mind that this album induces. Just glorious.

Neon Neon - Praxis Makes Perfect (Lex)

Could Neon Neon even exist in a world without concept albums? Having covered the life and times of John DeLorean on their debut, Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip return for another electro pop jaunt this time based on Italian communist tycoon Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. Sounds like a riot.

The main draw of course is Rhys' instantly identifiable vocals, that slightly mournful tone that lends everything he sings, even foot stomping singsongs such as 'Mid Century Modern Nightmare' a touch of pathos. Still for his part Boom Bip once again provides the perfect musical backdrop, from the chirpy sitcom funk of Dr. Zhivago to Hammer & Sickle's arpeggiated arcade march.

Whilst it doesn't quite have the sparkle, and indeed element of surprise, of their debut Stainless Style, it is still one of the few (ok… only) albums I can think of about a relatively obscure left wing activist that has not only been listened to in full in this house, but then played again and again.

Letherette - Letherette (Ninja Tune)

For their debut album Wolverhampton's Letherette have employed the time honoured approach of throwing everything but the kitchen sink approach at it. Electro funk and Dilla inspired hip-hops beats rub up against noodly ambience, whilst french house segues into almost broken-beat'esque soul with the end result enjoyable if sometimes lacking in cohesion.

At its best when the tempo is aimed at the dancefloor, tracks like 'After Dawn' mine the same rich seam of yearning, filtered house music that Fred Falke and Alan Braxe once made their own, whilst 'Space Cuts' with it's chopped up vocal samples and funky modem solo nods to the synthetic sexual squelch of Soft Pink Truth.

In comparison the downtempo numbers on the album whilst perfectly fine in their own right break up the mood and suck the energy from the album. Still it's a promising debut and if Letherette are to be faulted its for trying to cram too many ideas into one album, not something you can accuse too many bands of these days.

Little Boots - Nocturnes (On Repeat)

I'm still not hundred percent sure whether Victoria Hesketh's debut Little Boots album is/was considered a success or not. Certainly having made a grand entrance with the brilliant 'Stuck on Repeat' she ended up losing ground to the likes of Lady Gaga and La Roux in the fembot electro pop cup.

Still that's probably more of a sad reflection on the music presses inability to conceive that more than one female fronted electro pop act could be successful at the same time, an issue they never seem to have with knuckle dragging, lad fronted rock bands.

Anyway back to the issue at hand, Nocturnes, the new Little Boots long player is out now and very nice it is too. Partnering with the likes of ex-DFA producer Tim Goldsworthy the shiny electro pop stylings of 'Hands' have been ditched for a less abrasive sound that draws on that current mainstay of crossover dance music, 90s house.

With touches of Saint Etienne flecked throughout like glitter dust and tracks like 'Shake' that sound like the kind of single you wanted Kylie to have been doing post 'Can't Get You Out of my Head', it's a strong return. Yes, it does occasionally feel too smooth and on a couple of moment it threatens to veer into middle of the road blandness but it remains one of the better pop albums released this so far this year.

Space Dimension Controller - Welcome to Mikrosector-50 (R&S)

Not sure why but in the back of my head I had this idea that Space Dimension Controller was from Indonesia which would have been fairly interesting (note: just realised I've been thinking of Space System, who are in fact from Jakarta). Anyway the, as it turns out, British producer's new album transcends mere Pacific Rim exoticism and instead set the controls for the heart of the cosmos, the kind of ridiculous prog rock meets Star Trek high concept that people who own TR-808 drum machines seem to love so much.

Played with an utterly straight face it's an enthrallingly ridiculous, over the top sci-fi fantasy that puts to shame anything Daft Punk could possibly conceive. If you can imagine an intergalactic funk ensemble consisting of Prince, Michael Jonzun, Afrika Bambaataa and a horny cyborg Barry White then you have an idea where this album is coming from.

It takes some skill to produce an album that could feasibly soundtrack both bacofoil clad disco dancers at a Jovian disco and spotty lads spinning on a dirty bit of lino in a mid 80s midlands shopping centre, but he somehow manages it with aplomb.

Various - Grime 2.0 (Big Dada)

Grime 2.0 is a new compilation curated by journalist Joe Muggs providing a snapshot of a scene that many left for dead as like an incredibly stoned tortoise its close relation dubstep strolled past it on towards global domination.

Still on the basis of this compilation it's fair to say that a few years out of the spotlight has done the genre no harm at all. Putting the focus back on the producers rather than the MCs, Grime 2.0 reinforce the thrilling dichotomy of the genre that at its best it sounds both incredibly avant grade and like its being made on a copy of Music 2000 for the PS1.

It's easy to see why, like its predecessor rave, it has spawned an unholy amount of academic posturing, as tracks like Footsie's 'Oh My Gosh' sound a lot 'weirder' and more futuristic than any number of electronica tracks composed using algorithms sequenced from dying stars. Now who's going to compile Donk 2.0?

House of Black Lanterns - Kill The Lights (Houndstooth)

Finally we touched on Dylan Richards' House of Black Lanterns project last month so we won't bore on about it too long, but seeing as his new album is out this week it would be remiss not to give it a quick mention. Packed with bass lines that arrive like prehistoric monsters rising from the depths, jittering Footwork beats and an omnipresent atmosphere of millennial Techno dread, it's not a feel good album by any stretch of the imagination, it is a very good one though, check it out.


Head here to read last month's edition of Dexterous Material.