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Conscious Electronic’s Top Albums of 2021

There is no musical artform that reigns quite as supreme as the full-length album. Unlike any other narrative medium, music is limited only by what the artist can conjure up in their hearts and minds. Whether it’s writing through the pain of a loss of a loved one or some former version of themselves, the musical writing process requires ultimate vulnerability on the part of the creator. Whatever their process must be, the challenge for music producers then becomes about creating a piece of themselves that connects with people on a mass scale.

The relationship between musicians and fans is truly a two-way street, and albums are one of the best vessels to streamline that connection. Having an hour of a listener’s undivided attention gives producers a chance to dive deep into their stories and struggles, making their most quality music as a treat for taking the time to tune in. More than the landmark single or any EP release, the full-length studio album has a much deeper connective power that sees so many often miss the mark altogether. However, there’s countless artists who are able to capitalize on this opportunity.

2021 represents the year that artists spent showcasing their time spent in a 2020 pandemic lockdown. AS a matter of fact, a common theme all of the artists on this year’s list share is this. Simultaneously, our Top Albums list sees a collection of select artists who take listeners on an hour-long (or so) journey through a cohesive narrative storyline and some rather intense emotions. The listener emerges a fan, feeling as if they know the musician on a person level. Whether it’s an underground artist emerging into the industry and writing in their basement studio or global superstars composing in the landmark studio at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, one’s true talent lays in their artistic ability to capture their audiences and turn them into lifelong fans.

Conscious Electronic weighed a combination of factors in purporting this year’s best LPs, including streaming rates, chart presence, fan reception, cultural impact, and editorial picks. Without further ado, we proudly present our Top Ten Albums of 2021.

LONG FORM

10) SupertaskConnection

9) REZZSpiral

8) GRiZRainbow Brain

7) Ganja White NightDark Wobble

6) ILLENIUMFallen Embers

5) Porter RobinsonNurture

4) MersivPretty Dark Loud

3) RÜFÜS DU SOLSurrender

2) TRUTHAcceptance

1) CharlestheFirstSOLUS

Top 2021 Albums (Playlist)

Honorable Mentions

Zeds DeadCatching Z’s Mixtape

KursaStanding Ventures

ZHUDREAMLAND 2021

Top EP of the Year - Wreckno, Pansy

SHORT FORM

10) Yheti – Noetic Sunrise

9 ) Ravenscoon – REVOLVE

8) MIZE – Balancing Act

7) Minnesota – Feel Again

6) Ivy Lab – Press Play

5) Tipper – Insolito

4) SHADES – The Dance of Death

3) NotLö – Speak Easy

2) Lab Group – Lab Group

1) Wreckno – Pansy

Top 2021 EPs (Playlist)

Honorable Mentions

Super Future – Equilibria

1788-L – Parallel-S

Sylph – Snakeskin

COLLABORATIVE

10) Obskurities Vol. 2, cured by ill.Gates

9) V, curated by Lane 8

8) Dawn Vol. 2, Subsidia

7) In Unity, Electric Hawk

6) Cypher Vol. 2, LoFreq

5) Rare.wavs Vol. 1, Foreign Family

4) Space Jam, Spicy bois

3) Solstice Sessions Vol. 1, Aspire Higher

2) Atlas / 1, curated by Alix Perez

1) Emergence, cured by CloZee

Top 2021 Albums (Playlist)

Honorable Mentions

Alive Remixes, curated by Zeds Dead

create music together vol. 2, bitbird

Ophelia Presents: Advent Vol. 3


Supertask – Connection

Supertask has been on an absolute tear throughout 2021. Some might even call it “an infinite series of events in a finite amount of time.” Between releasing a debut Lab Group EP with CharlestheFirst and Potions, his annual “Choose Your Own Adventure” Bicycle Day stream, 2022 lineup announcements for Electric Forest and Okeechobee, a late-October EP release of his own (just to name a few), the CE favorite artist known as Kyle Bishoff is always turning heads across the underground bass music realm. Perhaps no more than his early 2021 eight-track, titled Connection, which occupies the liminal space between a full-length album and an extended player.

Upon closer inspection, however, the arrangements are much too intentional and nuanced to be an EP. This is expertly executed, ambient bliss that points to carefully attuned time spent in the studio. Time spent in lockdown, no doubt, as Bishoff alluded back in April.

“It seems like things have been rough lately for many of us. Most of us spent last year in isolation. These tracks came out of these dark times in hopes they might connect us.”

– Supertask

Throughout these pristinely composed all-original solo tracks, Supertask takes listeners on an extremely vulnerable, introspective journey into somber downtempo. It’s a sonic canvas filled with gorgeous, cascading rhythms, deep sub-bass, and maze-like melodies. Extremely meditative and thought-provoking, Supertask makes it so easy to get lost in his measures as each new progression reveal deeper adventures ahead.

Connection actually marks Supertask’s first full album since 2019’s Zero Day and covers the full gamut of emotions he felt going through really tough times in his personal and professional life during quarantine, which Bishoff detailed at some depth to his fan community previously. He elaborates on that a bit more upon the release of the new full-length project:

“This is my first release in almost a year and my first album since 2019. Last year I took a break from things to focus on myself. “

– Supertask

With the perfect fusion of heavy and calm, thrilling and downtrodden, as well as moveable and meditative, Supertask once again manages to remind listeners of a softer, more introspective side of bass music that is too often overlooked but so frequently desired. From the soothing progressions on the opening title track to the blissful atmospheres of the album’s midpoint and gentle drop-off of the closing tracks, Supertask never ceases to take his listeners on a rollercoaster ride of existential inquiry, of equally-balanced substance and style, and of deeply authentic emotion.

At the very least, Connection is one album that deserves one’s full attention with a start-to-finish listen. Then again, it’s haunting and hypnotizing progressions will have you enraptured for the entire ride. But Connection is more than just an album, which is why it ranks among our Top Albums of the Year. Complete with dramatic tension, three-act structure, conflict and resolution, it’s a fully-rounded narrative with which to get lost in. That is, if you choose to fully submit over to Bishoff’s sonic universe.

Supertask – Connection

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REZZ – Spiral

Coming into the ninth spot on our annual list is none other than REZZ, and just in the nick of time. The Canadian producer born Isabelle Rezazadeh only released her fourth studio LP, Spiral, at the end of November. In all actuality, REZZ was due for another significant release as her adoring “Cult of REZZ” fans would often remind her. After all, she hadn’t release a cohesive body of work since 2018’s A Certain Kind of Magic. For all intents and purposes, she was indeed working on the album for well over two years with her usual dose of ominous, alien-branded midtempo.

When the pandemic forced everyone into lockdown, though, REZZ was able to expand her creative pursuits on the album to include collaborations with fellow Canadian rock act Metric and a pop-centric inclusion with former Disney star Dove Cameron. So while she’s been working hard to broaden her horizons, like “working more with vocals,” as she revealed to Billboard last month. “I really enjoy testing my boundaries — challenging myself and collaborating with a bunch of different artists who are singers, songwriters, people who’ve been in bands,” she elaborated.

“This specific album, it’s definitely a lot more broad, to the point where I’m sure some fans are going to be like, ‘I miss the old REZZ.’ But I made sure to sprinkle in a lot of original kind of sounding REZZ songs as well. It’s like, half the vocal songs that are me testing myself and then the rest of are very much comfortable and familiar to my original audience.”

– REZZ

REZZ refers to this as the “evolved version” of her sound in a press statement, “while also maintaining a very hypnotic sound which originally captivated my audience.” The now-26-year-old said she’s grown immensely throughout 2020 and 2021 in her personal life and career. So naturally this change is imprinted onto her album, which is a lot of why CE selected the 11-track Spiral as a Top Album. After all, a true cause for concern would be if an artist’s sound merely stayed the same, year over year.

This February, REZZ gets back on the road for a 17-date North American tour that extends into May. She says it’s her biggest tour yet and, more exciting, that she built her audio around what she wanted to do visually on-stage! REZZ continues, “I wanted this album to be heavily branded visually around hypnosis and a spiral themed production. Like all of my projects, I just make whatever feels natural in the moment.”

REZZ – Spiral

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GRiZ – Rainbow Brain

Future funk pioneer GRiZ had just about the “best year ever,” by every measure of the phrase. After a 2020 filled with the industry’s most-watched live streams, the artist was more than signaling to his close-knit fan community that he would be sprinting into 2021 with the return of live music. Right out of the gates, Grant Kwiecinski came out guns blazing. That may even be stating things lightly.

Between his countless “family gathering” style stadium events throughout the seasons, including his recently closed-out Space Camp in Hampton, the Detroit native had also made sure to make time to continue his high-level production livestreams for anyone who couldn’t attend. Kwiecinski had been releasing new music at will since early February, which culminated in his imaginative film narrative style live stream, Rainbow Brain. Oh, and he released a monster album by the same name on July 23, 2021. Yet, it wasn’t until July 13 that GRiZ announced that these seemingly random, one-off releases would make up his seventh studio album, Rainbow Brain.

Following a top-notch kickoff event in late July, the full-length has now fully manifested in a whopping 23-track LP, with inclusions from longtime collaborators ProbCause and Big Gigantic, fellow Colorado local Jantsen, indie-electronic duo Cherub, and more. With four already-released singles from the LP, including “Vibe Check,” “Astro Funk,” “TieDye Sky,” and title track “Rainbow Brain,” GRiZ described Rainbow Brain as “something close to his heart.”

“I want to live my life in the space of creative expression, and I want you to enjoy it… this is something close to my heart that gives my life purpose. I hope that you love it.”

– GRiZ

The album is presented in the form of a continuous mix, meant to be played from front to back in an effort to fully capture the experience as it should be enjoyed. Rainbow Brain stands as a point of departure from GRiZ’s most recent Ride Waves LP, but it radiates all of the same positive energy and feel-good vibes synonymous with his brand of uplifting electronic music. From powerful saxophone melodies to astronomical bass synths, the album in its entirety is a transcendent journey through GRiZ’s colorful soundscapes of space and time.

GRiZ – Rainbow Brain

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READ MORE OF OUR YEAR-END LISTS




Ganja White Knight – Dark Wobble

Belgian bass duo Ganja White Night returned with a vengeance in the spring of 2020 to share their latest, greatest, and “wobbliest” masterpiece to date. This project of course came in the form of a 10-track long-form project, titled Dark Wobble. Released on their stoner “high holy day” of 4/20, GWN’s cinematic album is far from your average bass music release. The aptly-titled LP featured the darkest wobbles and weirdest wubs, soothing Eastern arrangements, along with collaborations with SubCarbon artists Boogie T and SubDocta.

However, the “proof in the pudding” with any Ganja White Knight deliverance is the continuity of not just their sound design, but in the ongoing narrative of Mr. Wobble. In particular, the duo go about filling in the ever-evolving story tensions between light-versus-darkness within their animated universe. It’s a stark and colorful world inspired by Ganja White Night and brought to life by Belgian graphic artist and animator, My Name Is Ebo.

Dark Wobble is composed of ten tracks, seamlessly swirling through genre boundaries and shattering expectations of the norm, as GWN presents their finest full album yet. Paired nicely against the duo’s monumental sold-out three-day event, Wobble Rocks, Dark Wobble set the stage for Ganja White Night to have a supreme 2021.

Ganja White Knight – Dark Wobble

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ILLENIUM – Fallen Embers

“This album is the result of my healing and personal growth. A lot of passion went into every single song.

– Nick Miller, aka ILLENIUM

Out with the old, in with the new.

The turn of phrase might just have been Nick Miller’s angle on the year as he said goodbye to an entire era of ILLENIUM music…half a decade’s worth, to be exact. After a history-making TRILOGY farewell performance inside Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, Fallen Embers landed in July to immediate fan and critical praise. 

For all its intents and purposes, TRILOGY was meant to say a proper final goodbye to Ashes, Awake, and Ascend before an entire stadium filled with ILLENIALS on the eve of the Denver melodic producer’s fourth studio LP release. Not to mention, a 16-camera, 4K livestream of the spectacle-sized event, complete with live fan interviews between sets—making it feel like one was really there for those folks at home.

While each piece of the A-Trilogy were themselves sonic marvels in their own right, Fallen Embers represents ILLENIUM’s most advanced and full-bodied piece of work to date. Spanning 14 tracks, the album marks ILLENIUM’s full forward fold into the melodic bass-meets-rock-meets-pop crossover point that’s increasingly marked his music direction since Ascend

Chocked full of even more star-powered collaborations than his last album, Miller manages to rake in Tom DeLonge of Angels & Airwaves for “Paper Thin,” Krewella and SLANDER on “Lay It Down,” an Excision reboot, along with some of his favorite collaborators and vocalists in Said The Sky, Annika Wells, and Sasha Sloan, to name a few. But the LP is about much more than it’s all-star cast, as Miller revealed to Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1’s New Music Daily, who was able to take a break from his heavy touring schedule during the pandemic.

“I got more time on this one, honestly, because of the last year and I think I got time to perfect it and really make sure everything hit right emotionally. I was working on so much stuff this past year and I wanted to make songs that just I like and just I vibe with and I know that helps me out and get rid of some of the noise. And so it was really peaceful, honestly.”

– ILLENIUM

As a result of keeping his head down and going hard at work in the studio, Fallen Embers earned ILLENIUM both AMA and Grammy nominations, which further cements Miller into mainstream success. For these reasons, among many more, ILLENIUM easily cracks our Top Ten Albums list for 2021! Fun fact: The album’s cover art is the creative brainchild of Miller’s current girlfriend, Lara McWorter, which adds a whole different dimension to the project. Taking our number six spot, Fallen Embers is an instant masterpiece. 

ILLENIUM – Fallen Embers

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Porter Robinson – Nurture

Coming into the fifth spot on CE‘s Top Albums shortlist is Porter Robinson‘s widely publicized, critically acclaimed sophomore artist concept album. Highly anticipated not just among his global fanbase, but the entire dance music industry at large, Nurture. Porter is a bonafide visionary, that much is indisputable. But Nurture truly raises the bar on the heights at which the artist can really reach—which is virtually boundless.

Released in March of 2021, Robinson’s sophomore full-length arrived seven years after his debut, Worlds, during which time the young prodigy spent much of his creative energies on exploring spin-off projects. Namely, touring Shelter with Madeon and paying homage to the early roots of rave music through his Virtual Self alter-ego.

Robinson even revealed that during the writing process, he had to push past overwhelming bouts of creative anxiety and self-doubt as an artist. Despite Porter being very vocal about his insecurities, he said it made him to question whether he even had the capacity to carry on as an artist. Well, it was certainly worth the wait. Much like the artist himself, Robinson’s Nurture exists in a genre of its own lane and in a league of its own.

A magnum opus type of work from cover to cover, Nurture is a deeply emotive and vulnerable experience wherein Porter glistens with grace and intellect. At times somber and downtrodden, and others uplifting and spirited, the emotional peaks and valleys of Nurture offer the album up as Robinson’s best work to date.

Porter Robinson – Nurture

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Mersiv – Pretty Dark Loud

Arguably Denver’s top trailblazer in a city brimming with leading underground bass music talent, Mersiv has situated himself as the premiere electronic music visionary in the Mile High and abroad. After spending the pandemic cultivating his rabid following, and months-long anticipation since announcing his debut project in summer, Mersiv finally pulled back the curtain on his debut album, Pretty Dark Loud.

The Colorado-based producer situated the 20-track LP as a defining moment in the freeform electronic genre, which he spearheads with his independent imprint at MorFlo Records. Since 2015, the producer/DJ has been developing a unique “Pretty Dark Loud” style of electronic music—elements intended to bring forth meaning and emotion in pursuit of full immersion into the moment. Striving for this immersive captivation in the studio and on stage, Mersiv conveys an invigorating sense of vitality and sonic therapy.

Pretty Dark Loud, what he is considering his “debut” album, encapsulates the sound Mersiv has been working towards materializing and triumphs in delivering a little bit of each element. Technically, Mersiv’s 2019 Digital Eden project “clocks in” at an LP-length in 10 tracks total (which is why we named it as part of our Top LPs of that year). Nevertheless, PDL rings much truer to the Mersiv’s Project’s vision in both title and technicality. The 20-tracker also holds deep personal meaning to the artist, as he explains,

“This project means so much to me because it’s been a part of my growth as a human being, it expresses my journey of life, and expresses so many different emotions that I’ve experienced in the recent years. I hope this record speaks to you in some shape or form, and that it makes you feel something. I also hope it helps you continue your journey no matter how hard or challenging it may be.”

Anderson Gallegos, aka Mersiv

With this record, Mersiv furthers his status as one of the innovators in electronic music and showcases the emotional depth of his Pretty Dark Loud style of production. Each song offers a sense of adventure and fun, yet manages to leave the listener feeling full and impervious from anything outside the moment. Not to mention, there’s tons of heavy collaborations with some notable artists in the underground bass world and even one track dedicated to Mersiv’s mother (see: “If I Was Raven”—an original rework of LA-based Elephant Revival’s original).

Mersiv – Pretty Dark Loud

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RÜFÜS DU SOL – Surrender

RÜFÜS DU SOL is a band synonymous with tension. The Grammy-nominated live act came together through the push-and-pull of the dancefloor, whose passion lies in dance music, and whose lyrics spill their personal pain for thousands to dance to. The Australian trio—composed of Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt—have globally renowned for its live guitar, vocals, electronic synths, and percussion into the dance music world. 

The Rose Avenue helmers continually raise the bar when it comes to expanding their distinct sound, crafting vulnerability that can be heard and felt, and delivering their raw emotions to the masses. Nowhere is that seen more than on their recently-released fourth studio album, Surrender, which saw an October output on their very own label and Reprise/Warner Records. 

Surrender was created during the lockdown, with several of the tracks made during a six-week studio trip the band took to Joshua Tree. Much like their Live from Joshua Tree experience, the record inhabits a world that is deep, lush, organic, and yet electronic at its core. During this time in the desert, the trio started each day with group meditation, intention setting, and working out every day as a group. Learning to trust each other, healing old wounds, and surrendering that trust was the main thematic of their trip.

It’s this type of “world-building” that has been RÜFÜS DU SOL’s focus since its inception, its name meant to evoke an otherworldly destination, a future point the band dreamed of arriving at from their bedrooms in Sydney, and, later, recording studios in Berlin and Los Angeles. This vision was vital to Surrender, as the band wrote songs to transcend the intimacy of the world they built together, in a DIY ground floor Hollywood apartment studio. The result is a record that is bolder, braver, and more far-reaching than anything they have done before.

RÜFÜS DU SOL – Surrender

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TRUTH – Acceptance

A force both on the stage and in-studio, TRUTH have long proven themselves as some of the most forward thinking tastemakers of the contemporary electronic music. Certified mainstays of New Zealand’s electronic music scene, the Deep Dark & Dangerous bosses stand firmly as the indisputable bastions of deep, dark dubstep. Its no secret that the Kiwi duo have long possessed the uncanny knack for being all at once gritty and eloquent, as well as heavy and hypnotic.

On their fifth studio album, however, TRUTH opted away from the usual “danger ahead” sonic imprints that they’ve pioneered over the years. It’s all in favor of a more ambient downtempo journey that melds classical instrumentation with contemporary electronic elements and sounds.

Self-described as one of their “deeper piece of work,” it’s a melodic masterpiece that warrants a listen from start-to-finish (the mark of any good album). Speaking the LP, the pair revealed the following on their newest sonic venture:

“We’ve been working on this for the past year or so throughout the pandemic, sending files back and forth from the US to NZ.”

Tristan Roake and Andre Fernandez, aka TRUTH

Combining their razor sharp synchronization and innovative flair, and leading listeners through lush bass lines, eerie rhythms, and vintage synths, TRUTH’s 13-track opus is a dreamlike excavation of the self. From the start, this journey-embarking project is truly unescapable in its sense of captivation—and alluring all the way to the finish. Felt on the body and deep down into the bones, listeners won’t soon leave without a feeling of truthful Acceptance as these masterful compositions force deep reflection, turning inward, and confronting one’s own darkness.

TRUTH – Acceptance

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CharlestheFirst – SOLUS

so·lus / ˈsōləs /
Alone or unaccompanied (used especially as a stage direction)

CharlestheFirst – SOLUS

The late, great CharlesTheFirst tops our 2021 list with his March-released full-length, SOLUS. The 25-year-old artist out of Lake Tahoe was becoming an increasingly alluring figure and coveted tastemaker over the past few years.

Between hosting his very-first curated event in Wyoming and what would have been his Winter Tour kick off inside Tennessee’s The Caverns, CharlestheFirst was only just getting started.

But Ingalls had already cemented himself as a benevolent force in experimental bass production with his third studio album. When news broke that Charles Elias Ingalls had tragically died in his sleep earlier this month, the entire EDM world was shaken deeply to its core.

Thankfully, Ingalls left the world with a most personal look yet into his imagination. offers a long glance into CharlestheFirst’s creative expression of emotion, conflict, and the changes that occur through life over time.

Naturally, this progression through life is a solitary one that the artist wants us to see is, in itself, overwhelmingly beautiful despite its turbulence. Narrated by his stirring production and open lyricism, Ingalls’ third longform project stands as a testament to the power of music as both an instrument of story-telling and an individual’s human experience.


“This is a story of the lone journey, a pilgrimage to places previously unknown. A time of challenges that represent growth, and finally looking ones true self in the mirror. A story of solitude. A story of sunrises seen and felt. A story of holding onto love and letting love go. This is Solus, a gift from me to you.”

Charles Ingalls, aka CharletheFirst

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