The 25 best albums of the last three months: April to June 2018

Every three months, FACT rounds up the best albums that have passed through our inboxes and over our desks. This is 2018’s second quarter report and it’s jam-packed with club, ambient, experimental and rap gems you might have missed.

It’s been non-stop this summer already; Pusha T, The Carters, Kanye West, Nas and Drake have all served up a full platter delights for our enjoyment. So you might be shocked to find that none these celebrated full-lengths have made it to FACT’s second quarter report.

Another year, a few might have slipped into the list, but we’ve been overwhelmed with quality releases: digital club constructions from Gábor Lázár, urgent reggaeton from Clara!, Sarah Davachi’s unique low-key drones, SOPHIE’s brittle pop and so much more. These are the 25 best releases the last three months.


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Aisha Devi
DNA Feelings
(Houndstooth)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Aïsha Devi’s voice is her primary tool, and across DNA Feelings she treats it like a viscous fluid, guiding it in and out cavernous crevices without a shred ego. Occasionally words emerge through the ether, but ten her vocals are merely breaths or sustained tones, sizzling and heaving with more character than any synthesizer. If Björk’s elastic vocal experiments on Medúlla highlighted a fresh avenue experimentation, DNA Feelings is the logical progression. JT


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Autechre
NTS Sessions
(Warp)

Bleep

Clocking in at an hour and twenty-nine minutes, Drake’s Scorpion has been roundly criticized for its excessive length. Is it an attempt to game the streaming system, or merely a bumper edition reflective bangers “for the fans” that just happens to include a contemporary happy birthday song? Autechre’s NTS Sessions 1-4 is eight hours long and free cynical anthems; the last volume is two hours what sounds like a gas leak. This is how you do it for the fans, Aubrey. JT


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Barker
Debiasing
(Ostgut Ton)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

UK-born producer Sam Barker – a co-founder Berlin’s Leisure System – already has an impressive pedigree as one half Ostgut Ton duo Barker & Baumecker. On his debut solo release though, he flips the Berlin techno template inside out, dispensing with kick drums completely and concentrating on lush, rippling textures, subtly evolving chord progressions and deep sub-bass to create momentum. There’s hints Basic Channel and The Field in Debiasing‘s hypnotic club tracks, but Debiasing is filled with enough fresh ideas to make it one the most vital records from Berghain’s label in years. SW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Beta Librae
Sanguine Bond
(Incienso)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

If you need pro how healthy New York’s techno scene is right now, you only have to listen to the latest album from Beta Librae, a regular at the city’s Bossa Nova Civic Club. Sanguine Bond’s nine tracks could almost be an imaginary setlist for the intimate Brooklyn space, moving from new age opener ‘Shy’ through the dubby, neon-lit grooves ‘Just Drift’ and ‘Cosmic Machines’ before closing out with the heady breakbeat rinse-out ‘New Feelings’. Like a lot the best records from this scene – especially DJ Python’s Dulce CompañiaSanguine Bond draws from a myriad influences to create a self-contained sonic universe its own. SW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Cardi B
Invasion Privacy
(Atlantic)

Spotify / Apple Music

Flexibility has been one Cardi B’s strong suits since she released her first mixtape, Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1 back in early 2016. Some people said ‘Bodak Yellow’ was a hit only because she was aping Kodak Black’s ‘No Flockin’ flow, but two years later, the multiplicities her style have turned her into an enormous superstar.

Nowhere is there more pro her malleability than Invasion Privacy. The album is full Cardi’s signature tongue-lashings for dudes (‘Went Thru Your Phone’; the insurgent ‘I Do’ featuring SZA) and other dummies (Chance the Rapper collab ‘Best Life’; ‘Get Up 10’) and cutthroat flex raps (‘Bickenhead’, ‘Money Bag’), alongside song the summer contender ‘I Like It’, a trap-boogaloo hybrid featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin. There hasn’t been someone this exciting to watch ascend since Kendrick Lamar and no one as close to reviving New York as Cardi. CL


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

CECILIA
ADORATION
(Halcyon Veil)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

You may know CECILIA,”the dissociative metamorphosis” Napoli–Montreal artist Mélissa Gagné, from her appearance on Rabit’s 2017 album Les Fleurs Du Mal, and her Halcyon Veil debut Adoration is a perfect companion piece, evoking the same visual terror just through sound. The album plays the like the psychic interior a feminist cannibal film, romantic and yearning, poetic and dangerous. Its sound design is disorienting, but precise, its vocals so lithe and intimate, you’ll will feel like it is being performed only for you. CL


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Clara!
Reggaetoneras 3
(Editions Gravats)

Boomkat

For the latest (yes, there are more!) volume Parisian label Editions Gravats’ Reggaetoneras series, Galicia-born DJ Clara has turned in a high-octane megamix female-fronted reggaetón rollers from the ’90s to the present day – and it’s hotter than hell. Loaded with party-ready tracks and warped hooks lifted from recognizable dance hits like Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’, Reggaetoneras 3 is the most fun you’ll have with a mix all year and where every new syncopated snare is a fiery re-up. The search for your sizzling summer soundtrack ends here. ACW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

DJ Lilocox
Paz & Amor
(Principe Discos)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Since making itself known seven years ago, Lisbon’s premier underground dance label has yet to step out line. This solo debut from DJ Lilocox maintains Principe’s spotless record with a tightly-wound EP complex and assorted drum patterns that are as lulling as they are hyped and jostling for dancefloor attention. On Paz & Amor, which translates as “peace & love”, Lilocox’s batida is spiked with disembodied moans, rollicking acoustic guitar and theatrical flashes deep house, while thundering percussion amps up the drama. ACW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Duppy Gun
Miro Tape
(Bokeh Versions)

Bandcamp / Soundcloud

Founded seven years ago by West Coast weirdos Cameron “Sun Araw” Stallones and M. Geddes Gengras, Duppy Gun has remained a vital cross-cultural exchange ideas between Jamaica and California. On Miro Tape, Stallones and Gengras widen their net slightly, snapping up productions from the Bokeh Version crew (Jay Glass Dubs, Abu Ama and Seekersinternational) and placing them alongside those from their own extended family (Butchy Fuego, Ras G, D/P/I and others). But it’s the slew Jamaican vocalists that makes Miro Tape so exceptional. Sikka Rymes, I Jahbar, Early One, Lyrical Wiz, Sniper, Buddy Don and Lopo transform Duppy Gun’s psychedelic dubs into urgent, party-starting club heaters. JT


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Gábor Lázár
Unfold
(Death Rave)

Boomkat

Unfold is a complete reinvention for Gábor Lázár, whose minimalist sonics have previously yielded sumptuous textural results but not a lot melody. On Unfold, he takes his high-definition synths on a whistle-stop tour house, techno, bassline, dancehall, dubstep, garage and everything in between, pummeling bassbins with modulated digital waveforms that make you weak at the knees. There’s nothing particularly new here if you’re familiar with the music Lázár’s former collaborator Mark Fell and fellow Death Rave artist Rian Treanor, but Unfold is one this niche’s most enjoyable records yet. SW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Gang Gang Dance
Kazuashita
(4AD)

Spotify / Apple Music

It’s been seven years since Downtown NYC art mystics Gang Gang Dance released Eye Contact, their last full-length album. Although their announcement their return had me dreaming a palette full ‘Mindkilla’, the results Kazuashita are even more fantastical.

I’d like to believe they spent the last seven years in outer space and the album is their findings what pop music sounds like on other planets. It has moments that sound like they come from a cyber dystopian future where Sade is still making music, but it’s also deeply rooted in right this very moment, particularly when the legend Lonnie Holley emerges to read dark spoken word. CL


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Hilary Woods
Colt
(Sacred Bones)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Indie music fans a certain age may remember the falsetto-enhanced melancholic rock Dublin three-piece JJ72, who released two hits albums before disappearing back into the mist from which they came. As a teenager, Hilary Woods played bass for the band, but there are few similarities between JJ72 and Colt’s solo work. A collection cinematic, slow-burning torch songs drawn from a Lynchian universe, it’s easy to imagine the dream-wop ‘Black Rainbow’ soundtracking a night at Twin Peaks’ Roadhouse. ACW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Jenny Hval
The Long Sleep
(Sacred Bones)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

“You are your own disco ball hovering above you like a comforting reminder that not even you belong to you,” Jenny Hval warns on The Long Sleep opener ‘Spells’. There is always subtext to dig into on any Hval’s projects, but this line takes on a double meaning: the EP plays like jazz — down to the buoyant saxophone — the songs collapse and evolve into new versions the same track, spinning like a disco ball, projecting only what there’s space for in that moment. It’s one Hval’s lighter-sounding works, but still imbued with so much poetry to unpack. CL


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Kali Uchis
Isolation
(Virgin)

Spotify / Apple Music

Kali Uchis could have shirked her independent spirit in favor releasing her debut album with immediacy — she was, after all, one our R&B artists to watch in 2015. Isolation proves that patience is truly a virtue.

The album is crafted on her own artistic terms, slinky and sumptuous, featuring a wide range collaborators from Thundercat, Bootsy Collins and Steve Lacy to The Dap-Kings, Jorja Smith and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. She taps into her Colombian roots with reggaeton track ‘Nuestro Planeta’ and gets Damon Albarn to make her her very own Gorillaz track with ‘In My Dreams’. It’s a flag in the sand for Uchis and a totem for how much doing it your own way can reap vibrant results. CL


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Loidis
A Parade, In The Place I Sit, The Floating World (& All Its Pleasures)
(anno)

Bandcamp

Brian Leeds, aka Huerco S. and Pendant, has spent the last few years slowly weathering any discernible beats from his music. The dubby variations 2013’s Colonial Patterns gave way to the pastoral ambience 2016’s For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) and this year’s Pendant full-length was even better, all gassy textures and loping bass.

With his first release as Loidis, Leeds returns to the dubby depths his earlier material, bringing pulsing rhythms and sleazy basslines into his fuzzy soundscapes. ‘In The Place I Sit’ is the jewel in the crown: a ten minute slow burner that introduces the kick at the five minute mark. Spark up, tune in and bliss out. JT


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Playboi Carti
Die Lit
(Interscope)

Spotify / Apple Music

If last year’s Playboi Carti cemented the young Atlanta rapper’s relevance with anthems like ‘Magnolia’ and ‘wokeuplikethis’, then Die Lit is his bid for longevity. This time around he’s got feature spots from anyone who’s anyone: Lil Uzi Vert, Nicki Minaj, Chief Keef, Young Thug, even Skepta makes an appearance. These collaborations aren’t bad by any means, but Carti’s best rolling solo: ‘Old Money’, ‘Right Now’ and ‘Home (Kod)’ follow ‘Magnolia’s cloudy lead with just the kind breathless eccentricity that endeared him to us in the first place. JT


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Proc Fiskal
Insula
(Hyperdub)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

When Edinburgh’s Proc Fiskal debuted on Hyperdub last year his music was quickly categorized alongside the recent crop producers mining classic grime instrumentals for inspiration. Yes, his debut album Insula is full eski blips and square waves, but it’s got as much in common with Mogwai and Boards Canada than it does the music Slackk or Mr. Mitch; snatches Scottish dialect pepper his tracks along with melodies that sound like they’re come from the lineage Scottish folk music, not video games. If you need a new Caledonian sugar rush now Irn-Bru’s recipe has changed, Insula is just the tonic. SW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Sarah Davachi
Let Night Come On Bells End The Day
(Recital Program)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Recorded mostly using a Mellotron and an electric organ, Let Night Come On Bells End The Day is that most remarkable “ambient” albums in that it’s not really ambient at all. Really, Davachi’s considered, smudged drones and tones have more in common with Daniel Lanois’ muted slide guitar symphonies, Tired Sounds-era Stars the Lid, or Talk Talk’s quietest moments; it shouldn’t be much a surprise that she’s a progressive rock devotee. These tracks aren’t just arbitrary snippets meaningless, gaseous drone – they’re rich thickets activity, performed slowly, quietly and with purpose. What more can you ask? JT


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

serpentwithfeet
soil
(Secretly Canadian)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Like Aïsha Devi on DNA Feelings, serpentwithfeet, aka Josiah Wise, focuses completely on his remarkable voice on soil, the follow-up to 2016’s acclaimed blisters. There’s production from a host starry collaborators – Clams Casino, Katie Gately, mmph and Adele producer Paul Epworth – but every backdrop is just a faint murmur behind Wise’s booming tones. ‘soil’ is contemporary gospel charged with a sweaty, sincere blast intense sexuality and self-actualization that feels as radical as it is powerful. JT


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Skee Mask
Compro
(Ilian Tape)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Like the rest the Skee Mask catalog, breakbeats loom large over Compro, the Munich producer’s second album after 2016’s impressive Shred. On this LP, he evokes a very specific moment in the early ‘90s when jungle started to emerge and the sound that became known as IDM started to crystallize after the release Warp’s first Artificial Intelligence compilation. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but Skee Mask’s knack for crafting warm pads and his ear for melody make this one the best headphone techno albums the year. SW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

SOPHIE
OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES
(Transgressive)

Spotify / Apple Music

We already knew SOPHIE’s debut album was poised for greatness after the grand unleashing noisy stomper ‘Ponyboy’ last year. With OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES, the producer has gone above and beyond her calling to envision a colossal cyber-pop masterpiece, conjuring technological breakdowns and scrambled rave dreams a bricolage mutant drones, teeth-chattering industrial techno, gabber, trance, and so much more. ‘Immaterial’ is as elastic as a piece strawberry bubblegum, ‘Not Okay’ is how you wish most deconstructed club music would actually sound, while ‘Is It Cold in the Water?’ is just 100% transcendent. ACW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Tess Roby
Beacon
(Italians Do It Better)

Spotify / Apple Music

Tess Roby’s debut was written in 2015 following the death her father. The specter history haunts the album, from her father’s Roland Juno-106 that she used to build the songs to the ‘80s goth-pop heroes it unwittingly reanimates. Cocteau Twins slide into view, while there’s a whiff the Canterbury scene in the white-hot organ that trickles through the record.

On Beacon, bright, bubbly electronics work in contrast to the earthier guitar tones from Roby’s brother Eliot. ‘Ballad 5’ finds her fragrant voice underscored by meaty drums and a skeletal post-punk guitar line. Then there’s the kosmische faerie tale ‘Borders’ – a track that flings itself open to the elements. Only when you learn that Roby was “trying to envision the landscape England within the songs”, does it all makes perfect sense. ACW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Tierra Whack
Whack World
(UMGRI / Interscope)

YouTube / Spotify / Apple Music

Whack World is one the most urgent rap releases 2018 and not just because it’s only 15 minutes long. Tierra Whack’s output is esoteric and personal, a pastiche genre and mood. Fifteen tracks span a minute each with their own video inspired by her love games and toys. There is real depth beyond the bright colors, too. Tierra just might have more in common with Kimya Dawson and Pee-Wee Herman than any her genre contemporaries. CL


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Various Artists
Patina Echoes
(Timedance)

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

“I wanted to push everyone, even the people who have released tracks before,” Batu, aka Timedance boss Omar McCutcheon told FACT’s John Twells the label’s first compilation. This future-facing mentality, coupled with holistic sequencing and the commitment to championing new production blood from across Europe and the US – including Rae, Neinzer and Clerya – has been poured into a 12-track snapshot that reminds just how thrilling and inventive techno can actually be. “What I was trying to do was not about me,” stresses McCutcheon, whose own music has been notably left f the release. If you only buy one underground dance compilation this summer, make it this one. ACW


The 25 best albums  the last three months: April to June 2018

Various Artists
Flowers From The Ashes: Contemporary Italian Electronic Music
(Stroboscopic Artefacts)

Spotify / Apple Music

Stroboscopic Artefacts has outdone itself with this exceptional anthology contemporary Italian electronic music. There are some familiar names here – Lory D, Neel, Caterina Barbieri, Chevel and Ninos Du Brasil, among others – and each artist has fered up strikingly coherent work. Andrea Belfi’s light and airy ‘Spitting & Skytouching’ is an early highlight, and the compilation is capped with an astonishing track from label boss Lucy, who impresses with minimal ingredients: bumping percussion and an eerie electronic voice that warbles slowly into the void. JT


Read next: A beginner’s guide to the history and hybridity reggaeton