[R&S; 2015]

Styles: techno, dubstep
Others: Shackleton, Call Super, Powell, Akkord

“There’s so many people making sonically ‘correct’ or refined 4x4 music, we just wanted to explore everything other than that, whilst still keeping the dance floor moving.”
– Laurie Osbourne

A pretty ambitious and admirable way of looking at deconstructing the mechanics of dance music, no? Is it realized?

Yes, and no — to a point. Laurie Osborne (collab-centric Appleblim) and Alec Storey (Second Storey) teaming up as ALSO serves as a vehicle for the two to explore their shared love of “Detroit machine rhythms and sleek electronic grooves.” Storey’s Double Divide from last year was very much focused on experimenting with those machine rhythms — his constructions were of an extremely detailed, robotic nature, as little resembling a human or real-world sound made its way into the final product(ion). But with this in mind, the remarkable construction of Storey’s tracks allowed for a flexible, unhinged energy to dominate, and on this self-titled album, the mechanical intricacies are taken in different directions.

I have no doubt that, within the hybrid world of dubstep/techno in which ALSO and associates work, they won’t encounter any issues in “keeping the dance floor moving” with this album. But with the exception of the aptly-titled opener “Arpegmonger” and the fitting closer “PGs,” every track on this album rolls along at varying tempos without really straying too far from the four-on-the-floor conventions they seem concerned with ridding their craft of.

This isn’t to say ALSO is punctuated by 4x4 kicks, claps on 2 & 4, and crisp hi-hats jumping out on the offbeats (not that there’s anything wrong with that). ALSO’s dependency on techno forms doesn’t whatsoever reduce the impact of the music itself — “Raves” cruises through apparitions of chords and melodies in a fairly standard manner, but the stacked rhythms and excursions with delay and reverb offer a cohesive journey. It’s on tracks like “Sid’s Conundrum” that the duo shows their full-flex, the intensity and deftness of the rhythmic structures and spasming bass line never quite overpowering the faint melodic touches that dance at the perimeter. Its effect is that of rampant haywire energy caught, compressed, and realigned for a body music purpose — and very powerfully so.

But in the scheme of things, it’s hard to see how successfully “incorrect” this music is. If the aim of this collaborative effort is to explore and uncover new structures, I can’t help but feel that perhaps the adventurous spirit that Storey and Osbourne could have let loose has revealed a project slightly undercooked. ALSO is no doubt a thoroughly dense and interesting electronic album, and for its long-playing suitability, it should be commended. And while I understand their logic and respectable thought process, in the era of compelling long-playing wonders — Flatland, Suzi Ecto, heck, for that matter, even Syro — this album is “sonically correct and refined,” and ultimately, with the duo’s own goals in mind, that’s the only thing holding it back.

Links: ALSO - R&S

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