Max D Shaping [EP]

[Off Minor; 2015]

Styles: house, hip hop, disco
Others: Beautiful Swimmers, Stellar Om Source, Terekke, Willie Burns

Despite the numerous monikers and collaborative projects Andrew “Maxmillion” Dunbar Field-Pickering operates through, a distinctive touch to his productions sets him apart from many similarly-minded producers. Within the orbit of house, hip-hop, and disco that Mood Hut, “Canadian House,” and his own Future Times imprint encircle, no one programs drums quite like Field-Pickering, and his ear for melodies and chords that seem equally indebted to New Age relaxation tapes and big-room house mark out his singular productions with a charming quality few can match.

More often than not, Max D has been rhythmically busier and consequently more adventurous than many of his contemporaries, and like his previous work as Dolo Percussion, Shaping is a seemingly effortless exercise in meandering rhythmic passages. The obvious risk for such an intense approach is a loss of cohesion, tangents overstaying their welcome and dissolving the groove, the “vibe” that Max D has self-described himself a slave to. But to his credit, the rhythmic interplay never feels unnecessary or haphazard; much like how an experienced jazz drummer would use multiple rhythmic sets simultaneously, one can hear Field-Pickering pushing and pulling the fundamental pulse of house, but never straying from a determined, insatiable groove.

With all this hectic percussive activity, most of the melodies that made Field-Pickering’s House of Woo such a compelling, memorable house album either lose their brilliant, lustrous delight or are subbed out for more to-the-point melodies. Perhaps “She” is the only track that retains the same kind of endearing, New Age energy present on that album. But what Shaping lacks in devastating hooks is compensated adequately by exotic percussive flourishes that veer from the stately, traditional path and dress the EP’s tracks with a bat-shit forward motion.

Between his full-lengths, Field-Pickering seems content to hone his unique approach, subtly trading one set of colors for another, finding that right spot. Shaping doesn’t stack up as highly against Maxmillion Dunbar’s most significant releases, but like other relatively “placeholder” EP outings on The Trilogy Tapes or L.I.E.S., it’s hard not to be drawn into his wonderful dreamworld and the ensuing enslavement to the “vibe” that follows.

Links: Max D - Off Minor

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