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Machinedrum – Alarma review

Machinedrum aka Travis Stewart is the latest US producer to benefit from the recent surge of enthusiasm for all aspects of the bass continuum (see also Starkey and FaltyDL) and perhaps the most deserving, given the producer’s prodigious output since his emergence in the late 90s. Stewart has of course been here before, with arch US opinion makers Pitchfork deeming him the “standard to which the next wave of imitators aspires” when casting their gaze across Now You Know – his debut set under the alias Syndrone for the Merck imprint back in 2001.

Fast forward a decade and Stewart is on the cusp of releasing his latest album, Room(s) for the increasingly niche genre fervent Planet Mu imprint. This time around you feel that wider recognition will finally engulf Stewart, with the ears of music consumers generally more receptive to the sort of kaleidoscopic soundscapes melded to juke rhythms that peppers Room(s).

It’s a smart move from the always classy LuckyMe imprint to drop this excellent twelve of Machinedrum mind fucks ahead of the aforementioned long player. We’re tempted to class the four tracks here as edits but really they blast through all notions of that word into something completely different. If you’ve frequented Boiler Room either physically or via the wonderment of the www in recent times, or checked the Jackmaster Fabriclive mix then it’s likely you will have been blasted in the face by the genre defying dizziness of “Alarma”.

If neither of the above describe your life in recent times, then the track essentially applies a demented approach to all aspects of song structure and is perhaps the most refreshingly fun thing we’ve heard in a long time. Brilliantly dusty percussion that sounds ripped from a classic DJ Shadow track ripples to its own rhythmic direction throughout; whilst all manner of buzzing synths, crazed klaxon horns ride the bumping mid range bass. It all makes for one of those tracks you can just drop, stand back and bask in the chaos it causes.

“I’mabrat” provides an all too brief interlude into twinkling teen crunk attitude before Mr Stewart recommences the deranged brilliance with the tempo shifting click clack hyper action of “Loveking” – the source material will be familiar to anyone with a cursory knowledge of contemporary R&B. The thick waves of bass on this pretty much demands club play. Finally, and quite intriguingly, “YNY” sounds pretty much like Machinedrum succeeding at what Tiger & Woods do best, flexing some slinky boogie into a mainframe of abrasive sonics.

Tony Poland