The 50 Best Currently Working Electronic Artists

  1. These are electronic artists that are currently working, and still at least around their peak (either having plateaued there, or just past it, or still yet to hit it, or on a second wind of sorts). That disqualifies artists that have released a couple of bad albums in a row with no good singles for at least as long, and artists that are touring but not producing.
  2. In no order:
  3. Matthew Herbert
  4. Ricardo Villalobos
  5. Dominik Eulberg
  6. Richie Hawtin/Plastikman
  7. Luciano
  8. Jan Jelinek/Farben
  9. Tim Hecker
  10. Biosphere
  11. Vladislav Delay/Luomo
  12. Simon Posford
  13. Akufen
  14. Monolake
  15. James Holden
  16. Ellen Allien
  17. Isolee
  18. The Knife
  19. Bjork
  20. m83
  21. The Notwist (??? - they haven't done much since 2003, but things seem to be in the works for them)
  22. Booka Shade
  23. Jaga Jazzist
  24. Fennesz
  25. Boards of Canada
  26. Nathan Fake
  27. Legowelt
  28. M.A.N.D.Y.
  29. Justice
  30. Markus Nikolai
  31. MF Doom
  32. Anticon (including CLOUDDEAD, Why?, Sole, Passage, etc.)
  33. Solex
  34. Jesse Somfay (He's a really under-rated artist, perhaps due to how new he is. Jesse has a had a few low-key releases on Traum Schallplatten, Archipel, Manual Music, and Budenzauber. Almost everything he does is really top-notch, and gets caned by such major DJs as Michael Mayer and Sasha. He's the newest artist on this list by far, but I think he's going to really rise in profile over the next few years. His sound is very unique, and perhaps the best example of "neo-trance")
  35. Gabriel & Dresden
  36. Aphex Twin (I lost hope for a bit, but his AFX compilation makes up for the fact that his acid revival series was perhaps the most mixed bag in history [of which that compilation is a "best of" - something he judged very well)
  37. Underworld
  38. The Books
  39. Infected Mushroom
  40. Lindstrom
  41. Alva Noto
  42. Michael Mayer
  43. Superpitcher
  44. Minilogue (another "rising star". I think if this prog/trance/minimal hybrid goes anywhere, Minilogue, along with Jesse Somfay and James Holden, will be the spearhead)
  45. Matmos
  46. Junior Boys
  47. My My
  48. Ulrich Schnauss
  49. Kaito
  50. Stefan Bodzin
  51. Amon Tobin
  52. The Field

Nice list (good balance between minimal and other styles). But you have Aphex Twin on two positions (well, he probably deserves it), but maybe you should replace one of them with Kaito

Indeed. Kaito, in fact, should have been on there.

Thanks for pointing that out!

Several other good artists are DJ Rain (aka Phutureprimitive and soon to release as Telepathik)and Markus Schulz. Andy Moor is still churning good tracks too, like his collaboration for Air for Life.

Markus Schulz and Andy Moor I'm a bit shaky on. I find Markus Schulz is sometimes pretty good, but inconsistent and sporadic. I feel the same way about Andy Moor (I disliked Air for Life, and didn't find it really did anything new musically).
Also, neither of them have put out what I'd consider an ultimate classic. Although Markus Schulz came close on a few tracks.
I'll consider Markus Schulz a bit further, then decide.

I've never listened to DJ Rain (+adds to wishlist).

Underworld are also in 2 places and Boards Of Canada.

Whoops! Thanks!

Great list!
I'm glad to see that so many of my great loved artists are still producing great music, and i'm really looking forward to hearing more of Aphex Twin after hearing Digeredoo - keep up the good work! :D

He's dropping in quality though. Aphex has done so much that's revolutionary that I doubt he has much left in him. His recent Analord releases were pretty mixed bag.

Whatever happened to all the greats of the era gone by and now firmly sealed in time? PvD, BT, Chicane, ATB... all those people who gave meaning to 'music'. Baah! I am just nostalgic :(...

Not really what I'd consider the best currently working:
Chicane: now makes really bad radio pop.
BT: Lost in soundtrack land. Although he's good at it. This is a hard one.
PvD: Not that good anymore - doesn't make anything up to the standard of his old work, or even a very good standard.
ATB: Really?

I like their original older works, I meant. And ATB although might be crazy radio pop, meant for pleasing the masses without giving a damn about music, but like the occasional blue moon, I like some bit of it... some.

Of course, none of them are any good any more. The question I'm wondering is why? Is talent something like flashes of lightning? How can anybody just... stop being good and start making crap? And how can public still like them?

Well, I've noted from following artists over time that they seem to have a U shaped curve of talent. In the beginning, they're finding their feet, usually they don't even get record deals with their this stuff, and they work it on their own. Most never get past this stage. Of those that do, depending on the style of music and what they do, they get signed somewhere along the curve, usually somewhere leading up to their peak. Then, they put out albums (or tracks) of increasing quality, until a masterpiece results, and from there they put out albums of decreasing quality until they fade into obscurity (or mass produce one bad hit after another - then eventually become no longer good enough for even that). I see this U-shaped curve all ove the place: I almost never see an artist that fades away return with a masterpiece, and I never see any artists that put out a dull, uninspired album right after a masterpiece (usually you either see a "more of the same" decent album, or a failed experiment, which, while terrible, is far from dull and unispired, it's just too weird to be listenable).

The public will never accept artists at their creative peak: This music is too difficult. They usually accept an artist on the way up (Hum, BT), or on the way down (ATB, Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold).

There are rare exceptions, but sadly, that's the way creativity works. You see it in many fields, not just music. For example, in mathematics most mathematicians who do something great put out a string of decent works leading up to their masterpiece.

It's a psychological phenomenon known as "fluid intelligence" Fluid intelligence, which is the really creative, inspired, quick-thinking intelligence tends to go in a U-shape, peaking at approximately 23, in most cases. As you get older, fluid intelligence drops, and crystallized intelligence goes up. To create great masterpieces, you need fluid intelligence. The exception is storytelling of all types: age makes these better, as they rely on crystallized intelligence (which is basically slow-burning worldly knowledge and experience - versus the rapid-fire norm-shattering fluid intelligence that music and math/science require.). So that's why.

And people like what's familiar, which is why the creatively washed-up Macartney still cranks out (occasional) hits and best-selling albums to this day.

I see. It's an extended phenomenon of what happens when you don't 'quit when you are at the top'.

Can you post some of the music created by artists at their peak? Not necessarily the ones in the orignal post.

I am intrigued. How difficult can music get?

How difficult...hmmm...try these:
Karlheinz Stockhausen. Download anything by him.
Mille Plateaux - Clicks + Cuts 2 CD 3
Faust - Faust [peak album]
Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica [peak album]
Throbbing Gristle - The Second Annual Report [peak album]
Nurse with Wound - Homotopy to Marie

Most artists mentioned never got that difficult: just too difficult for the general public.

Artists at their peak:
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless [perfect example of "quitting while you're ahead"]
Klaus Schulze - Irrlicht [perfect example of slow build and dropping off with garbage]
Akufen - Deck the House [this artist had a slow build through dull tech-house that slowly grew more interesting. He's still pretty close to his peak now.]
Paul Van Dyk - For an Angel [while not particularly difficult, it's certainly less accessible than something like "Wyr Synd Wyr" or "Crush"]
DJ Tiesto - Suburban Train [again, not that hard, but definitely harder than say, "Just Be" or "Love Comes Again"]

Some artists at their peak only just touch accessibility, and fight to recover it for the rest of their careers. Others don't even bother with it or go near it. Accessibility is easy, so artists will often enter this world when their ideas begin to fade - they'll just apply their old ideas to a pop template (this is a favorite trick with dance music, actually).

Note that difficult doesn't neccessarily equate with good - nor does accessible equate with bad, but the very best albums are usually at least a little more difficult.

Leftfield perhaps?
They've abadoned progressive house but They still make good stuff, and it makes it a less minimal dominated list.
Also, Hybrid are still active and making good stuff.
Also, Amon Tobin & DJ Shadow (Although he's had his peak)

I agree with you about Amon Tobin. "The Foley Room" was really good.

As for the minimal-domination, I think it's because minimal (and electro-house) are the big things in electronic dance music at the moment, so all the best artists flock to them. Plus there's still a lot to musically explore there.

i feeling that you have unfairly over looked Tocadisco and Dirty South as some of the remixes that these guys are coming out with are pretty good these days. and although you may not like them i think MSTRKRFT or Justice are changing electronic music, even if their albums weren't all too great...........and also i think Klaas as an artist and remixer is brilliant, have you heard his remix of Space by Micha Moor. great song.????

They're not bad, but everyone on the list is better. MSTRKRFT and Justice I've never actually checked out, so I'll see about them. Klaas, same deal.

Perhaps the Field? Their debut album is superb. And Radiohead need to go IMHO, they had their creative peak with Kid A And Amesiac.

I agree, actually.

Hendrik Weber perhaps? (Pantha du Prince)

He'll need to release more music first. While Walden is beautiful, that's all I've got from him that I can call masterful. His album wasn't bad, but it was nothing spectacular.

hey you should check o. lieb's current work (as solieb). i really enjoy some of the tracks

I think Lieb continuously plays music, and as he plays it all just automatically presses onto records. None of his records ever follow "the rules" of how records go, they all seem like they start and end in the middle of something. Not that this is a bad thing. I'm just not surprised that he's still going.

I actually like Circus Maximus. It makes sense he's doing minimal now - a lot of the other classic trance artists switched to minimal. Hm...I may consider him a place on the list - I'm just hesitant, because while it's good work, it's nowhere near as good as any of his early 90's releases. I get the sense that he's no longer trailblazing, but just keeping up. This will take some thought, because I find it hard to compare him in a way that isn't biased by his earlier tracks.

well yes his 90's releases set up a very high standard, wich i think will be pretty hard to get to. and lets not forget that we're talkin about pretty big difference between genres.
i like the most isotropy.

on another subject i really love some of the Moonbeam's work
fav track: moonbeam - cocoon
fav mix: ramon tapia - masquarade part 2 (moonbeam mix)
brilliant :X

Moonbeam is good, but not in the league of any of the artists listed above.

not in the same league... that's a bit harsh :P
what about petter and guy gerber :)
oh yes, and luke chable

Simon Posford?!?!?! the king of Goa/Psy (Hallucinogen) and the creator, and in my opinion, only good artist in the field of Psybient music (Shpongle), not to mention his duo with benji vaughn turned band with the addition of the Disco Biscuits (Younger Brother). If it means anything, he broke into DJ mags list this year for the first time in his career, and is getting quite an American following.

Simon Posford?!?!?! the king of Goa/Psy (Hallucinogen) and the creator,in my opinion, only good artist in the field of Psybient music (Shpongle), not to mention his duo with benji vaughn turned band with the addition of the Disco Biscuits (Younger Brother). If it means anything, he broke into DJ mags list this year for the first time in his career, and is getting quite an American following.

Indeed - quite an oversight on my part.