Machinedrum MachinedrumMany Faces LP
LUCKY METhe music included on “Many Faces LP,” which isn’t really an LP, but rather a banquet of an EP with six original tracks and a remix, is supposedly aimed at achieving a physical reaction with the skin as the first entryway into the body, but the first thing the album does is force you to think. It skips over the body and heads directly to the cerebellum. It awakens memories and reflections, releases endorphins, and locates itself on an abstract plane where, for example, you realise that for a long time you have been missing IDM that could make you get up out of your chair wanting to go off and invade Poland. It’s that IDM that is so meticulous in details and so rough in its script that, except for the exceptions, it is seldom produced because it takes people with nerve to be willing to get into such thorny ground: Clark, FaltyDL and not too many more. Travis Stewart, a well-kept secret in NY, is favoured by his C.V.: Machinedrum was one of the first artists to catch the eye of the M3rck label, one of the first to link Rephlex / Warp-school European IDM with a complex idealisation of hip hop from the worst neighbourhoods. What happened to him was that the recognition went to Prefuse 73 and cohort, but since 1999 Travis has been trying out weird combinations and squeezing a sound that has soul, shine, and grease out of the bowels of his equipment. A wet dream for any braindance addict.
Before “Many Faces LP” brought attention to Machinedrum, Scuba’s label, Hotflush put out the debut of Sepalcure , “Love Pressure EP”, in which Stewart and his friend Praveen, another supporting actor on the international IDM scene with a hunger to demonstrate his talent, joined in on the model of future garage suggested by Joy Orbison. The debut was consistent and passionate, and stood out for its precision and the detail-mania of its production. A geek addicted to dubstep, Machinedrum had to end up here: the album that we have before us now is a recounting of various underground sub-scenes, the majority of them connected to the ghetto or the urban scene, to which he applies his scientific mastery of production with the precision of an ophthalmologist operating with a laser. There are several Kanye West-style accelerated voice samples on “Sakatak” and “Mean Mean”, but besides soulful hip hop, the mix of influences also extends to new Chicago juke house, Detroit ghetto-bass, the radioactive dubstep of labels like Night Slugs. At the end of it all, Bok Bok remixes “Carry the Weight”, and various relics from the ruins that are still to be found in the fields of Europe from when the rave craze was bubbling and out of control: there is eurobeat and truculent riffs of hardcore like the ones that used to make your head turn into a giant unplugged electrical power plant. It’s definitely an orgy of details, crossfire of bass lines, breaks, voices, noises, exquisite notes that, like we said in the very beginning, amaze your head more than they do your feet. This orgy is pyramidal, well-directed, and logical from beginning to end. Not just anyone can do that kind of thing.
You can’t compare it to the first Machinedrum, when he was M3rck’s man of the future, and even so, Proem always had more of a reputation, perhaps because Proem knew how to be more orthodox than Travis; what he is doing now has won the Glasgow label Lucky Me over to his cause, but this current evolution means an amazing step ahead for his sound project. It is now, at the age of 28, that everything that he is carrying around in his head occupies a tidy spot in the chaos of his neurons: the two blocks of influences –the street and hoods on one side, the polished and bourgeois on the other– finally speak to each other without any type of physical barrier between them. “Sakatak” could be a good base for M.O.P. if they tried to rap with flow instead of screaming like gorillas—let’s say, then, that it would be the base that Just Blaze would hand in for a Warp project. “It’s that Bass”renders homage to all the excesses of British bass music—to be even more precise, the more rave part of the post-dubstep community– which should be reaching your hard disk via the downloading of promos: it licks its chops over wobblestep, spits out chunks of acid, and overwhelms with its morbid, fatter-than-fat rhythms. All of this continues with parameters similar to the DJ Assault meets Aphex Twin that is “Lemme F*ck It” –with the voice of a local MC who only has to say cliché phrases like “player haters in this house”, “let me see your pussy” or “move that ass”– and with homage to labels like Dancemania, Cajual and other points of frenetic activity of old Chicago house. This album by Machinedrum, in conclusion, is a wonderful result of the transatlantic dialogue between the United States and the UK, where the future of wonky beat (Lucky Me) is happy alongside the prodigal son of danceable IDM. Javier Blánquez
Machinedrum - Sakatak