The Essential Music Library project is an attempt to get the many musical minds of the SDMB to sit down and discuss what works are absolutely necessary for a well-stocked musical library. There will be roughly 20 threads detailing a variety of genres so that we can get the depth that would be missing from a single-threaded discussion and the breadth necessary to cover what’s out there.
Massive Attack: Blue Lines and Mezzanine
Prodigy: Music for the Jilted Generation orFat of the Land
Kraftwerk: Man Machine
Everything But the Girl: Amplified Heart, though it’s not really an electronica album, it does have the remix of “Like the Deserts Miss the Rain” which was a Huge dance hit.
The Crystal Method - Vegas
Moby - Play
Paul Oakenfold - Bunka
Fatboy Slim - You’ve Come a Long Way Baby
Prodigy - Fat Of The Land
The Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole
Sasha + John Digweed - Northern Exposure - Expeditions
This has been a really bad list, so far. I’m not trying to start a fight or anything, but this is way nineties dance-centric; hopefully, I’ll be able to offer a less myopic and more informed overview of essential recordings. I’m just saying!
Kraftwerk - “The Man-Machine” - the album that defines the band, as it’s entirely synthetic, electronic, and has entirely moved away from the band’s Krautrock origins.
Joe Meek and the Blue Men - “I hear a new world - an outer space music fantasy” (possibly the first “electronica” record, in that it’s an exoticism-heavy record made with primitive synthesizer and studio equipment, and it’s also actually listenable and good instead of just valuable as a cultural artifact)
Jean Michel Jarre - “Oxygène”
Silver Apples - self-titled; “Oscillations” may be the first electronic pop song.
Tangerine Dream - probably “Rubicon” or “Phaedra”
Synergy - “Electronic Realizations for rock orchestra”
Walter Carlos - “Switched-on Back” and “The Well-Tempered Synthesizer”
Giorgio Moroder - all production work, esp. “I feel love” and “Love to love you baby” for Donna Summer, solo album “From here to eternity”
Isao Tomita - “Snowflakes are falling” (the serious “switched-on Bach”)
The Human League - “Travelogue” and “Reproduction” - people often forget these records because the band essentially became a jokey New Wave band later on, but these are basically “If Kraftwerk made pop records” - incredibly lo-fi, minimal, and experimental electronic pop music.
Morton Subotnick - all
Cabaret Voltaire - “Mix-Up” - like the Human League, it’s easy to forget that the band who later made such innocuous and gimmicky music was once an amazingly dense and experimental project - this is true industrial dub music, all echoes and contact microphones and tape effects.
Suicide - s/t
Cybotron - “Enter”/ “Clear” (re-release) - The Nevermind the bollocks… of Detroit Techno.
John Foxx - “Metamatic”
Ultravox - “Systems of Romance”, probably
Fad Gadget - all
Nuno Canavarro - “Plux Quba”
Luc Ferrari - any number of important works, like " Presque Rien"
Neu! - we can argue over their place in Krautrock, but the use of studio techniques makes them one of the the earliest “electronica” bands.
Mantronix - all singles, really.
Yellow Magic Orchestra - “Solid State Survivor” (the Japanese Kraftwerk)
Steve Roach - “Dreamtime Return” (the album that people should be listening to and mentioning when they instead mention Aphex Twin’s S.A.W. II)
Orbital - “orbital II” - the best one.
the Orb - “The Orb’s adventures beyond the ultra-world”
Hopefully, that will fill in a lot of the gaps before all the rave stuff that came later.
I’ll go along with a lot of the suggestions here. Here’s my (very incomplete list):
Prodigy - Music for the Jilted Generation
Moby - Play
Moby - Moby
Kraftwerk (pretty much anything)
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2
The Crystal Method - Vegas
Paul Oakenfold - Another World or Tranceport
Sasha & John Digweed - Northern Exposure
Portishead - Dummy
Tiësto - In Search of Sunrise 2 or Nyana
Armin van Buuren - Boundaries of Imagination
Sasha - Involver
Fatboy Slim - Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars
Orbital - Orbital 2
Chemical Brothers - Come With Us
Deep Dish - Moscow
The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
Brian Eno - Music for Airports
Hallucinogen - The Lone Deranger
Underworld - Dubnobasswithmyheadman
The Future Sound of London - Lifeforms