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Beat Report, Vol. 2

Electronic Music Reviews

Orson — Version002
There’s a sublime sort of restraint and finesse at work on Orson’s Version002. The chilled, spare mood calls to mind the top-class minimalism employed by Peverelist, Ramadanman, and F, all worthy players in the dubtech scene. Simmering tribal rhythms enclose a nocturnal, meandering synthline and spectral washes of intricate white noise on “Madness,” while “808 Dub” on the flip melds a mischievous groove with fierce wobble and atmospheric juke pads for good measure. Quality.

American Men — Cool World EP
The Glaswegian outfit’s Cool World EP is a hyperactive handful of neon noise, retro electronics, and explosive, elastic math rock drum programming. Think Battles and Mercury Program with a pronounced penchant for Galaga and Pac-Man — less mood and languor, more gloss and pixels. “AM System” could easily be an M83 lost track with its wistful vocals and rapturous synthesizers. Bass scene kingpins Ikonika, Machinedrum and Hudson Mohawke make an unexpected arrival at the tail end of Cool World with a clever array of remixes on hand: Ikonika’s infectious rework of “Claude Speed” applies a well-paced 8-bit aesthetic, while HudMo’s redux of “AM System” is a brightly burning heartbreaker of epic scale.

Skream — Outside the Box
Skream is Oliver Jones, South London producer and one of the founding fathers of dubstep. Given that latter fact, it comes as a bit of a surprise that this long player spends so much time in downbeat territory. In places, Outside The Box sounds more an homage to the futurist hip hop production of Flying Lotus or Mike Slott, with its decidedly retro synths and buoyant rhythms, while in others we hear strains of tuneful IDM a la Wisp or Mu-ziq (check the cheekily titled “The Epic Last Song”). Included are collaborations with indie rapper Murs and electro-pop diva of the moment La Roux. A mature effort from the prodigious young Skream.

Chemical Brothers — Further
The Mancunian duo serves up another installment of big beats and psychedelic ambiance on Further. While there’s no apparent regard for consistency here, the record does offer enough fodder to satisfy fans old and new. The siren and strobe-laden “Swoon” is sure to see time on a number of super club playlists, serving as an energetic respite from the first half of the album’s relative lull. “Another World” feels like an off-beat marriage of the whole new-psychedelic chillwave sound of the moment and the ghosts of Boards of Canada past, while the seductive reverb and synth-drenched number that is “K+D+B” recalls the trip-hop days of “Surrender” (where is Hope Sandoval now?).

DJ Nate — Hatas Our Motivation EP
Footwork: music for freebasing? Stuttering pop and hip hop samples pitch-bent beyond recognition, mutant two-step drum patterns, melodies plaintive and schizophrenic both. Born of ghetto house, footwork falls within the little-known genre of juke — these manic, overactive quasi-melodies were constructed for a brand of urban dance (jukin’ or footworkin’) that’s done a good job keeping itself exclusive to a tight-knit Chicago scene. Recently signed to Mike Paradinas’ formative Planet Mu, DJ Nate brings us [ b]Hatas Our Motivation EP, a more aggressive span of footwork tracks sounding like a perverse amalgam of crunk, two-step, and instrumental UK grime. Intriguing stuff.