Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The right amount of exposure and the right number of open minds would turn this record into the dance-music equivalent of Pulp Fiction. That film and this record are mindbending syntheses of undervalued styles and scenes of the past — both slyly referential and humbly reverential — with mad-scientist approaches that are dead set on being both current and translatable to the future. The men behind Metro Area, Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani, take six tracks from four 12" releases that left immediate impressions on the dance underground, edit them as needed, and weave them into four new productions for a painstakingly sequenced album that flows constantly and smoothly with colorful, melodic, and deep feeling and simplistic yet full-sounding grooves. In each track, a tip of the hat is given to the bygone days of boogie, old-school R&B, house, and pre-whitewashed disco. However, each track is so full of life and creative combinations and refractions of the past that any accusations of being hopelessly retro are laughable at best. The Brooklyn duo combines the synthetic (drum programming, synthesizers) with the organic (a string quartet and a battery of other guest musicians) for a record that sounds effortless on the surface but meticulously perfected beneath it. The bold, charging bounce of "Atmosphrique," the robofunk crunch of "Miura," the Boggle-bubble drum-pad bump of "Caught Up," and the jubilant street-side skip of "Pina" are so rich with immediate pleasures that it would be understandable to take the craft and precision with which they were made for granted. This record is a deceptively intricate maze of tight machine rhythms, tumbling bongos, smacking handclaps, warm keyboard stabs, zapping synths, tickling pianos, lively loops of flute, guitar flicks, and seesawing strings. It's just shy of being an embarrassment of riches.
by Andy Kellman