The last four months in my “relationship” with Travis Stewart have been like living with someone suffering from a dissociative identity disorder. From his live show in September, I remember the spilling of at least three beers and having to look for my shoe in the middle of the footwork frenzy. “Room(s)” had me sweating out all the toxins during the summer. Shortly after, Sepalcure's album came out, an oasis of 2-stepised IDM, sweet and warm, quite far removed from what we heard on “Room(s)” - if we don't count the similar bodily reactions to both records. And before we can even remove these two pieces from our iPods, LuckyMe is releasing this “SXLND”, of which the title track has been kidnapped by the new hype machine that is Azealia Banks.
Have these five tracks (four and a half plus a Scuba remix) got anything in common with 2011's Machinedrum or with half of Sepalcure? Yes, they have: Stewart's name in the credits and that Churrigueresque sonic watermark that all of his productions have. Nothing new, you would think. The mutating abilities of this man are widely known. However, the fascinating thing about it is that his mutations don't occur chronologically, but at the same time. And the latest identity of Machinedrum, despite the Shoreditch bass accent (hence the “Sexland” as suggested pronunciation of the title), oscillates between his home country - the United States - London and Berlin, in an extremely globalised representation of dance music.
For example, the title track could easily be found in Kingdom's DJ bag, as it's pure R&B for dancefloors full of hipsters (which is probably why Miss Banks likes it so much). In that Kingdom realm - i.e. in the vein of Fade To Mind and Night Slugs (the housiest side of Mosca, Nguzunguzu and Hot City) - we find “Van Vogue”, with alien details like dogs barking, while “No Respect” and “DDD” are clear cut cases of care-free house, albeit each with their own temperament. “No Respect” is more summery commercial, in the vein of David Morales, Sandy Rivera, Junior Jack and the like, with that much used (but very effective) tool of looping piano crescendos, tribal rhythms and a very catchy synth line. “ DDD” has elements of some American underground productions: an extra portion of groove, in a strict 4x4 format and with the beat tightly squeezed.
In conclusion, Machinedrum presents a hedonist and capricious personality, whilst maintaining the quality level shown so far by Stewart. Only now he's making honourable candidates for your glorious club nights wherever you go (you low cost coach surfer): Kreuzberg, Shoreditch or El Raval.