Vinyl LP Record [2LP]
The electronic cognosenti have always admired Travis Stewart, whether it be for his solo releases as Machinedrum or for his work in Brooklyn-based duo Sepalcure (Hotflush Recordings). After a break from producing, Stewart resurfaced in a major way last year with the Many Faces EP on Glasgow's LuckyMe label. However, for his latest album on Planet Mu, he's well ahead of the curve, approaching recording in a way he's never done before. On Room(s), Stewart's productions turn the 160 BPM footwork conventions inside out, filling the usually fierce, stripped-down form with elegant, sun-kissed and impressionistic songs built from R&B, autotune and dance music history's most exuberant stabs and kicks. Like the early post-rave sounds of ambient jungle, his beautiful new kind of high-speed, detail-packed mutant pop is psychedelic, exhilarating and strangely relaxing with its fast-paced washes of synths and drums. The album opens with "She Died There," building looping swirls of cut-up vocals over precise, cool synths and agile kicks and snares. "Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real" adds tough diva vocals and layers of warm chords to the flat, heavy baseline for something that approximates UK garage in a different matrix. On "U Don't Survive" Stewart mixes dubbed-out, autotuned lyrics with garage stabs and half-speed hip hop drums, creating an exhilarating, airy rush. The amazingly propulsive "GBYE" is like Todd Edwards on fast-forward, while "Lay Me Down" is sparser, leaving space for dreamy atmospherics and woody, jungle-like drum breaks. "Where Did We Go Wrong?" finishes the album in an ambient style, with just the chords and vocals remaining to float the listener away.