Styles: techno, electronica
Others: Transmission, Prefuse 73
Matt Chicoine (or Recloose) has been hopping around the fringes of the Detroit techno scene for a few years now. He debuted on Carl Craig's Planet E in 1998 with his oddball sample-based EP Welcome to the Dining Room. The EP was a departure from the traditional Detroit sound, but well received nonetheless. Chicoine proceeded to release a couple more singles, another EP and a mix CD, all the while hinting at an impending full length on the Planet E website. Finally, four years after Welcome to the Dining Room, Recloose gives us Cardiology.
I've been a fan of Recloose for a while now, so naturally I was out looking for a copy the day it was released. After finally finding one, I popped it in the CD player for the drive home. The first track, "Ain't Changin'," is immediately recognizable as Recloose with it's distinct shuffling beats and groovy keys (Robin S. "Show Me Love" on crack territory here). Unfortunately it stumbles badly halfway in with a dull, momentum killing vocal break. I skipped the rest of the song and was greeted by the opening synth stabs of "Ghost Stories," which reminded me of a bad Scooby Doo episode and had me skipping again before the drums even hit. The next track, "Can't Take It," is a frighteningly bubbly and incredibly accessible (it would have your mom shaking her booty) single from two years ago. Realizing this I checked the liner notes and realized, to my horror, that three of the other ten tracks on Cardiology have also been previously released. They make up Chicoine's best pre-Cardiology work (except the horrible and unneccasary dub "Absence of One"), but I still felt a bit cheated having only 7 new songs. I flipped through the rest of the album, but nothing really stood out and I ended up listening to NPR for the remainder of my trip home.
Since then I've had the opportunity to listen to Cardiology end to end quite a few times. I've noticed that, although initially unimpressive, nearly everything develops extremely well. "M.I.A," which starts out sounding like another bad "Absence of One" type dub, ends up capturing a laid-back IDM meets R&B vibe. "Permutations" starts off sounding like a Paperclip People b-side, but the sax work of Colin Stetson (who also appeared on Welcome to the Dining Room) leaves it sounding more the Craig helmed Innerzone Orchestra project instead. The real sleeper of this collection, however, is the flawless "Kapiti Dreams." It starts off with a whirling synthesizer and sparse keys, soon picking up a rumbling bass line and loose, swinging beat. By the time it hits it's stride four minutes you'll be flattening cardboard boxes and calling your friends for a throwdown. Both well paced and impeccably assembled, it's by far Recloose's most realized work yet.
That's really the story of Cardiology; the newer work is a subtle and well manufactured rather than reckless and meandering as Chicoine's back catalog sometimes is. It's a shame that the last two tracks have to stink everything up, but the quality of the rest of the album is enough to solidify Chicoine's place as an important (and hopefully influential) artist and earn my recommendation.
1. Ain't Changin'
2. Ghost Stories
3. Can't Take It
4. Kapiti Dreams
5. Up and Up
7. Get There Tonight
10. Abscence of One