The press release suggests that this could be Machinedrum's career defining album. Well if 'Room(s)' and 'Vapor City' weren't career defining albums then we are in for a treat. He certainly sounds re-energised on the lead track 'Do it 4 U (feat. Dawn) which breathes energetic new life in Machinedrum's brand of musical alchemy which take in UK garage, footwork, techno, house and soul. Looks like we are in for a treat.
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Well he’s had a good run hasn’t he? Ten years of making under-the-radar wildly inventive electronica before the superb double whammy of ‘Room(s)’ and ‘Vapour City’ brought him to a much deserved wider audience.
But it seems there’s something very wrong here. First up there’s a whole pile of collaborators - none that I have ever heard of although due to the amount of auto tune present some of our younger members of staff might be able to help me out. Secondly Machinedrum has obviously decided enough is enough and decided to head directly towards the dollar. The awful truth is that much of this could isolate many of his original audience. That aching blend of UK garage, footwork and melancholic electronica of those last two stellar works has been replaced by a bright bouncy highly sheened brand of dance music that without that all essential dollop of sadness tends to veer far too close to cheesy-house.
The use of vocals don’t do him any favours but even so the music seems a rather facile photostat of bad rave with a modernist r&b slant. This is exemplified in an awful moment on ‘Angel Speak’ where vocalist Ruckazoid announces "Let the trumpets hit” before the most awful syn-trumpets plod in pointlessly. Yet there are moments when this new approach really works ‘Do it 4 U’ excellently combines Machine Drum’s talent for superb jungle inspired production chops with the lighter production styles he’s obviously into these days. ’Ocean of Thought’ too breaks out of a sample of some awful relaxation tape or other to spring wildly with the sort of bouncy electronica U-ziq once made his own. And if you like new age try the pan piped smooth synths of ‘Opalescent’.
But these moments don’t do enough to rescue the album as a whole. He remains an excellent manipulator of sound with a deft touch on the desk but a lot of this doesn’t sound anything like his previous work or in fact any music I’d ever want to listen to with none of the superb twinkly late night evocative dance floor that exemplified such stellar works as ‘Vapour City Archives’.
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