Travis Stewart had gone almost a year without releasing anything as Machinedrum, after his contribution to the Lucky Me catalogue with “Many Faces LP”, but that doesn’t mean he’s been sitting around doing nothing all that time. In fact, I don’t think there’s been a more decisive period of transition in his career before. From being the underdog of American IDM, barely acknowledged despite of his decade-long career, Stewart has gone on to become an admired, reputed and wanted producer. The change of status has mostly to do with his participation in Sepalcure and their EPs on Hotflush (stepping onto the dubstep scene at the right time always helps), but now it’s time for him to see if Machinedrum has its own space on the dense scene of modern electronica, as separate from his efforts alongside Praveen.
This 12”, his first on Planet Mu, is a teaser for “Room(s)”, his first album (and on CD) for the same label, due out in two weeks. On it, we hear the traces of the sound we know as his (the complex beats, the attempts to let your legs get all tangled up, the obsession with European dance music from a New York viewpoint) and, like on its predecessor “Many Faces”, no real red thread: each track is a sonic organism with a life of its own. There’s not really a link between “Fantastix”, hardcore/jungle with helium voices and a break at 1,000 MPH, as if it were 1992, and “Listen 2 Me”, which is a kind of Africanist, accelerated techno, nor is there one with the two tracks on the A-side, “Sacred Frequency” and “Flycatcha”, which are an unusual mix of juke, chill-wave and soul. The only link is the maker, a craftsman of complex breaks who once again proves his talent, like a Luke Vibert without the obsession for lounge music. This is a delicious taster, and the album, I trust, will be a real feast. Robert Gras