Glitch In The Matrix – Top Experimental / Leftfield Bass Discoveries of 2020

January 16, 2021 - Audio

Top Glitch & Leftfield Electronic Music Discoveries of 2020


A playlist dedicated to those artists that are pushing the boundaries of experimental electronic music, from neuro and leftfield bass to the depths of breakcore and IDM. Here’s some of the most weird and wonderful sounds we came across in the past year.

Writings by Baxtak, Chad Murray, Molly Sisson, Fati Fatene & Sean H

Follow Our Glitch In The Matrix Playlist At:

Alternatively, you can find the playlist on YouTube.

False Noise – Floral Strobe [Upscale]

Upscale did not fuck around this year with the series of False Noise releases it offered. Mirroring the 8-bit artwork aesthetic that the artist has employed, False Noise’s work on the 10-track Floral Strobe album was a true deconstruction of the techy genres, taking it in aesthetic back to Sega Arcade days while pushing it forward in sound design. ‘Floral Strobe’ is every bit as beautiful and sadistic as the title suggests. Evaporating drum n bass sections are met with circuit-breaking epileptic hits, while the melodies are every bit warm as a down jacket. The juxtaposition in this project is absurdly intriguing; it sounds like what Lumpy from Happy Tree Friends’ sleep paralysis probably feels like, or how waterboarding would materialise in a space station Guantanamo Bay if the general in charge was a Teletubby. Overall, this one could take the cake for us this year in terms of timbral innovation, however, we’ll leave that for you to judge.

– Written by Baxtak

RefraQ – Northlands [Inspected Records]

RefraQ’s Northlands EP is a mammoth project that was in the works for some solid years, partially due to the fact that the project was accompanied with an impressive self-produced visual journey (2 music videos and some visuals for the other 2 tracks). RefraQ’s signature technical sound design intertwined with a whimsical fantasy world that he created in sight and sound. RefraQ’s music takes inspiration from natural landscapes, softer melodic and almost infantile memories and a post-rock approach to atmosphere-building. Just put on the visuals and dive into this ethereal, dark and epiphanic world.

– Written by Baxtak

Swarmm – Extract / Transform / Load [Holotone]

This debute EP from London-based artist Swarmm came through our feed and immediately knocked nails into brain with the anxiety-inducing cadence on ‘Exhale which has one of the freshest takes we’ve heard on exponential groove motifs in recent times. While Death of a Generation & Jitter flex on all grounds of sound design atmospheric compositions, it was the groove on Angular Mass that truly solidified this EP as a truly multi-dimensional and dense display of avant-garde musicianship at the nexus of groove, sound design and a distressing post-singularity sense of doom.

– Written by Baxtak


Renraku’s ALEPH put out this nutty blend of jungle, breakbeat and dubstep back in June at the height of the US protests. Cocooned among the system glitch and robot heart rate monitor sounds, this absolute machine-gun of a song perfectly sonificated the sound of the precinct fires and riots, should the year’s protests were happening in a not-so-distant cyberpunk future, when weapons induce temporal anomalies and laser cutting also applies to the flesh in street fights.

– Written by Baxtak

Maynix – Vapour [Intrinzic Music]

A rainbow of sounds from the Italian producer in this futuristic realm of entangled 2-step and jazz. Who knew one track could open so many doors while maintaining perfect cohesion. Broken-beats scattered with heavy sounds varnished with mellifluous jazz. Maynix makes music to cause sensory overload and to make your brain jump. His work seems to be maturing like the knowledge of an old philosopher with his psychedelic concoctions. He is definitely one to keep an eye on!

– Written by Molly

Integrate – Enter the Mirage

The duo of Black Carl! and VCTRE have been enjoying a gigantic leap through the ranks of the US’s leftfield bass debauchery scene and they’ve solidified their combined gravitas into the Integrate project. The result? Soul-crushing mystical Middle East-inspired wub wars upon the listeners’ ears. The song’s title, “Enter The Mirage” also works perfectly with the “what they talking about? things ain’t always what they seem” sample throughout the song. The “all these faking-ass rappers in the industry, talking about what they got and they ain’t got a damn thing” sample feels like a whole flex on the scene, and a deserved one at that. We’re hoping for more Mesopotamian stompers from them next year.

– Written by Baxtak

Holographic – The Escape [Slug Wife]

We still have no idea who makes up Slug Wife’s illusive Holographic imprint, it is even real? Am I really hearing this or is it a sonic hologram? Is this even music? Does the Pope have a six pack? So many questions left that need answering after listening to this heated EP which takes that signature Sluggish beat and marries you to the beat as its wife. Over four tracks, this EP combines the heaviest and stankiest hip-hop grooves and blends them with all sorts of elements, most noticeably for us on the title track’s Asian-influenced melodies. Tbh, I’m more keen to hear more from these folks than find out who they are, even if they turn out to be the ghost of Kim Jong-il; at least it’s still ILL right?

Arkana – Pharros’ Lockstone [New Dawn Collective]

Last few years, we’ve been blessed with Alon Mor’s cinematic bass music offerings, and this year, Arkana has stepped up to the challenge to give us more of that epic goodness. ‘Iskatallith’ tells the conceptual and abstract story of a cosmic drama, one that involves a divided universe, exploding stars, and interstellar vessels on a mission to save life from the stopping of time. There’s an in-depth interview about the unique project over at Stereofox, but it’s safe to say in short that the combination of influences such as metal music, sci-fi/ancient stories like LOTR and Dark Souls, and cryptic bespoke world-building make this release a unique project. Arkana is without a doubt a force to be reckoned with in the realm of cinematic electronic music.

– Written by Baxtak

eliderp x Pure Shade – Zephyr Point [VALE]

VALE has been steadily solidifying their footprint on the IDM scene with a steady dose of releases, as well as kickstarting their Noisia Radio style Enter Vale Programme podcast. This release from Eliderp and Pure Shade was one of our favourites from them this year, with its progressive Eastern tones and cinematic sound design. The galloping weight of this song’s bass and percussive element resembles the sound of a marching army of cyberpunk Uruk-hais, while the harmonic elements give emotional delicacy to the aggressive approach.

– Written by Baxtak

Nitepunk – Absolute Zero [Never Say Die]

The Tbilisi-born and New York-based producer known as Nitepunk released his first EP via Never Say Die after 5 years of activity through singles and it immediately solidified his might as a brutal force in the high-octane domains of bass music that grooves as hard as it techs. The four track EP combines elements of breakbeat, drum n bass and arena-sized drop-galore EDM, however, it’s the track ‘Absolute Zero’ which nailed it all for us. This absolute belter is definitely a track that would have been played and rewinded at the Blood Rave scene in the movie Blade, and it single-handedly makes me itch to be at a music event again.

– Written by Baxtak

Sabroi – Soil Inhabiting

Sabroi’s burst onto the scene a few years ago was a breath of toxic air into the radioactive domains of experimental music, and it has not diluted or stopped by any means. Soil Inhabiting was a standout for us from the three tracks he released in 2020 and the track basically sounds like someone cryptically telling you in morse code that if you crack our code, we will allow you to jive with us in our xylem hyperloop. That’s how the track evolves from confusionstep to warm cuddling jazz.

– Written by Baxtak

Bleep Bloop – One Liners [Dome of Doom]

Bleep Bloop’s signature blend of vaporwave glitch meets future beats meets jungle meets hip-hop instrumental meets halftime neuro manifested this year in the form of this 8-track project. One Liners is full of total sonic debauchery, blending industrial decay with unique grooves and spectral reminiscence of hip-hop acappellas. The highlight tracks for us where No Roof with the “swerving asteroids in my spaceship, no roof, no oxygen, blunt smoke and my gold tooth” sample is a perfect excerpt to describe this music. “What Are You In The Dark” is another highlight belter, bringing in schizophrenic footwork and jungle elements in a total disregard for anything in the way of its juggernaut and crashing pathfinder.

– Written by Baxtak

Velour x Joro Dudovski – Dandelions [Sanctuary Collective] {The Rust Premiere}

It’s always nice to see fresh faces tackling the wild etherealms of cinematic bass music and this offering from the 18-year-old Chinese producer, Velour & Philly’s Joro Dudovski was a very promising introduction for us. Released via Vancouver’s young events company / label, Sanctuary Collective, the song has a vital story-telling feel, ample amounts of melodic ebb and flow, groove-switch up galore, twinkling arpeggios, and creatively playful sound design.

– Written by Baxtak


EXOSKELETON is where things get real freaking nutty. ISKELETOR has been on our radar for some time for their otherworldly experimental music and this collection of ‘winter clean-up tracks turned album’ is a vague and strange body of worok. Distorted sound design, industrial atmospheres and vague yet pleasing grooves meet in a hall of mirrors, before hammer design blows to the glass turn the hammers into explosions of sand. This is the sound of an indefatigable AI, should its operating system be injected with robo-crack to treat COVID-666. Not one for the faint-eared, but certainly one to hallucinate if you’ve already fainted.

– Written by Baxtak

Psykovsky & Friends – Zagadala Vnov

Psytrance is cool and all, if you’re into it, however, for the most part, it’s truly lost it’s “psychedelic-ness”. It’s usually the same dukudu-dukudu-dukudu-dukudu with the same old sounds and drop ideas that have been used so often that even zombies would be able to dance to them. However, there’s one specific name in that whole genre and it’s mongrel relatives of hi-tech, darkpsy, and experimental electronic that lives at least 30 years in the future, and produces truly NEXT LEVEL works; welcome to the world of Psykovsky. This alien producer’s work can get almost frighteningly intense, and one truly needs guts of steel to go deep into a listening experience of his albums. While this album includes a number of collaborations which are significantly tamer than a full on Psykovsky world, tracks like Retreat Treasure, Nightcrawler, Jungler and Great Expanse utilise supersonic sections, cinematic experimental break, hypnotically-echoed and confusing “melodic sections” to shatter all norms established in this genre. If I ran a festival, I would always make sure there’s at least one 5-hour psykovsky set, and that would probably be enough for the whole 4 days. This creature is RELENTLESS and the mystique around its persona is a marvelous contribution to all things glitch / IDM.

Craig Scott’s Lobotomy – I Am Revolting

“I AM REVOLTING” by Craig Scott’s Lobotomy was a glitch song we heard that not only embodied that word in its sound, but also its delivery. The song tethers a strange balance of carefully-thought out and planned music distribution ideology and an entirely sporadic and almost comical approach to arrangement of impulsive sounds. Craig Scott utilised a wealth of organic instrumental recordings from himself and collaborators, including drumkit, congas, batta drums, double bass, cello, piano, clarinet, saxaphone, violin, ukulele, trombone, flute, while also self-creating the technology required to record, manipulate and arrange the music. The release was then mainly made available via a “pink concrete brain encasing a USB drive”, a short run of DIY “numbered lathe cut vinyl records”. Any attempt to listen to the song on Spotify will also break the matrix, since the whole song is cleverly masked by a conversation about the ethics and necessity to release music on Spotify. Musically, this is probably the most delicate balance of digital and organic experimental music we heard this year; visually, this is somewhere between Tom and Jerry & The Matrix and sonically, this is 18th century Venetian Snares. The distribution strategy is also truly a testament to the artist’s dedication to the avant-garde ethos. This is an artist who knows their value and unashamedly pursues it, regardless of the industry trends and “must-have-yous”.

– Written by Baxtak

Audeka – Leisure Lands [YUKU]

Leisure Lands is an album of extremely well-produced ambient-electronica exploring a wide array of influences and directions. Consistently sedately, but, never sounding quite the same, it touches on drone, noise, glitch, IDM, post-rock and downtempo in its journey through futuristic relaxation. Where influences are concerned, the music at times feels reminiscent of Lemon Jelly, Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin, although, it could also be said that fans of Autechre and Tim Hecker would almost certainly enjoy this album. Philip K. Dick once asked ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’ and with Leisure Lands it seems that the Audeka triumvirate have not only answered that question but, soundtracked the results. A truly mesmerising album.

– Written by Chad Murray

FFO: Lemon Jelly, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin

Minor Science – Balconies [Whities]

‘Balconies’, our pick from Minor Science’s debut LP – ‘Second Language’, is a juked-out and frenetic dancefloor banger. Halftime kicks, vocal stabs and soulful synth-notes channel Chicago footwork, and eloquently shift around the tracks’ dramatic bassline. Sparse, heavily reverberating claps fill the space in Balconies, concluding in a devastating 4-to-the-floor switch up, accompanied by a gunshot flurry and solemn chords. The Berlin producer reveals a developed rave palette with glossy sound design and bespoke drum hits.

– Written by Sean Hughes

AMAZONDOTCOM x Siete Catorce – Absent City [Houndstooth]

A real highlight from Houndstooth’s VA compilation, ‘Absent City’ probes mutant dancehall, lurching forward into manic IDM, and then switching tempo, culminating in a fiercely distorted techno send off. Scattered polyrhythms under urgent synth notes speak of a circuit board dystopia, a place few can traverse. ‘Absent City’ is unable to settle and nor should it. AMAZONDOTCOM and Siete Catorce have created a menacing cross-examination right at the bleeding edge of electronic dance music.

– Written by Sean Hughes

Skope – Jaded [Inspected Records]

Catchy bass percussion lines are going to be our guidance through this dark wet trip. Jaded, which is the first cut for Low Focus EP, the latest Inspected Records release by Skope, succesfully attempts to recreate a dark but very deep atmosphere that we can properly enjoy with genres like liquid bass. Taking those elements, and meticulously combining it with wet and rough textures, Skope manages to transcend the limits, subtly approaching elegant experimental bass that undoubtedly characterizes the editorial line of the label. The sound creates a nostalgic and deep atmosphere, which will surely catch our attention and empathy from beginning to end. Without a doubt, the perfect start to Low Focus EP.

–  Written by Fati Fatene

“Skope’s unique blend of future garage, intricate techy wizardry and authentic Inspected groove couldn’t have been auralised better than this. Another one for the books from the OG.”

– Written by Baxtak

Ekorce – Imago [Shanti Planti]

We hadn’t heard a lot of considerable innovation in the realm of psydub / psybass music for a while and the genre seems to have stagnated at its great, yet, expressive peak for a couple years. It’s nice to hear new types of sound design beyond the overly-formant-driven sound design and classic tropes which we love, yet are feeling to be a bit too repetitive in recent times. Here’s where Ekorce’s Imago EP via Shanti Planti came in and kicked a deserved poke in the third eye of all things wubadelic. Obviously, the sound still builds on the likes of Tipper’s signature and squelchy aesthetic, yet, all the clickedy-clack elements are used in more unison and synergy, producing cross-element grooves that are fun and predictable, yet very consistent and continous. Ekorce’s evolution throughout the past year has brought him closer to a unique cascading blend of melodies, stumbling circuit current and what can be best described as a spiralling zipper. It’s a magical combination to admire.

– Written by Baxtak

DET – Ocha (Maynix Remix) [VALE]

Both VALE and Maynix make our list twice this year and for very good reason. Maynix’s remix of this DET track was a perfect display of the artist’s mastery of glitch renditions in practically any subdomain of electronic music. The juxtapositions between the 4/4 grooves and Maynix’s total cadence debauchery and tumble-drying time bends throughout the song is a thing of beauty. Not many artists tackle this more neuro-influenced domain of garage / house music, so the novelty in itself is commendable. However, it’s the sheer quality that sets this as where the bar currently is in this sound and aesthetic.

– Written By Baxtak

Poztman – Rites of Calling (EP Mix) [Outtallectuals]

Poztman was arguably one of the busiest artists out there last year, producing ‘Void Vermin’, a 19-original track album with 16 added remixes, the 5-track Rites of Calling EP for us, an IDM EP for Billegal Beats, as well as a handful of other singles for compilations. In only this year’s body of work, Poztman has explored more musical concepts than artists do in a lifetime. This includes wild takes on timbral exploration, avant-garde syncopation patterns, composing conceptual songs out of abstract words, and almost inhumane sound design. Rites of Callling EP was our favourite this year, not because it was released on Outta, but because of the story-telling approach that the songs took. Each of the five-song followed specific chapters within the rites of passage of teenagers in a distant future, matching each song’s energy to respective storylines. We recommend you read through the tracks and also enjoy it with the visual video below.

– Written by Baxtak

Mattia Cupelli – ARK [MC Records]

‘Ark’ is a short but devastating procession of cinematic drones, compound noise and fervently sung vocals. Hard-panned industrial scraping and otherworldly kick drums build up to a softly spoken sermon – “Wake me up”, fitting words for the divine experience implied throughout. The vocals and booming kicks give the track its’ body, like a vessel or ‘ark’ riding the flood of noise, holding on for dear life. Italian composer and producer Mattea Cupelli ‘Ark’ casts a foreboding and textural dronescape which we can’t stop getting lost in.

– Written by Sean Hughes

Jordano Martinez – Logic Hazard (especially the title track) [Droopy Tree]

Canadian Instrumentalist and Producer Jordano Martinez presents his concept album ‘Logic Hazard’. An introspective and brooding insight into classy pop music; rich with droning atmospheres, jazzy keys and well-wrought electronic experimentalism. Title track Logic Hazard is a stand out pick, an evolving slurry, eccentrically combining elements of trip-hop, jazz and noise. Densely packed sound FX and transmuting drum-breaks interlace giving the track forward momentum. Martinez, using creative tempo switches has made an intensely energetic piece with some pad-heavy ambient respite throughout. Cerebral.

– Written by Sean Hughes

Metaroom – Worm Rave [Nothing World]

Welcome to this strange, comical and psychopathic strain of hyperpop music which over only 1:48 gives us enough dose of madness that one needs in a month. I played this to someone and their response was: “I don’t like this one, sounds like a sugar crash”, and that practically sums everything I love about it. It kind of sounds like what falling your dreams sound like if you fall asleep at a rave and your sensory system don’t know how to respond to the debacle.

– Written By Baxtak

Culprate – Helter (Phace Remix) [Inspected Records]

Culprate’s “Helter” was an undoubted classic last year, twisting and turning the groove into all sorts of cheat-code level madness last year. This year the ‘Others’ EP got a remix treatment, which produced some gnarly works, such as this Phace remix. ‘Helter’ isn’t a song to take lightly, any attempt to remix it could easily take away from the song’s madness, however Phace’s subtle changes entirely respect the song’s original unique character and adds unique touches to it to breath fresh life into it. As we await Culprate’s crowd-funded follow-up to Deliverance, this is a good one to tie us over for the long-awaited follow-up. Big ups Phace!

– Written by Baxtak

Russ Brooker – Witches Brew [Outtallectuals]

Flying ointment is a hallucinogenic ointment that was quite common among witches in the past. Witches Brew, latest single from the UK producer Russ Brooker, aims to make us feel the same sensations that we’d experience if we had tasted this fateful ointment, and invites us to enter one of the darkest perspectives of bass, using slow rhythms that intersect with sinister sounds of wind, managing to recreate an authentic magical ritual. Even the silences are full of meaning in this track, as are the rhythmic beats, which at a certain point the author strategically assimilates to the heartbeat, that will gradually accelerate, as the “sound ritual” takes place. The first minutes of the cut take advantage of the broken and energetic rhythms to trap us in a hypnotic way, just before dragging us into a sinister silence that precedes a much more aggressive final part, as if they really revealed a terrifying truth at this point.

Acid touches bathe the track, making constant allusion to the dark psychedelic delicacy in which it’s inspired, and, by the time the track reaches its peak, we already have it running through all our veins. A very powerful sonore structure that perfectly matches with the concept, becoming a meaningful track, since it manages to successfully tell us a story, at the same time that it envelops us in the experience that it intends to make us feel. And it is, without a doubt, a hypnotic track, an almost synesthetic experience that will make us dance like zombies, totally hypnotized by the bass sound.

– Written by Fati Fatene

“I know Russ Brooker’s release is an OUTTA release, but it didn’t stop me from flexing it in our top 2020 list for the year. Obnoxious? Perhaps, but no favouritism here. Russ Brooker is simply a BEAST!”

– Baxtak

Tagged as:  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  /  / 

Play Cover Track Title
Track Authors