Swayzak Some Other Country

[!K7; 2007]

Styles:  house/techno
Others: Mark Farina, Underworld, Stephan Beaupré, Trentemøller

With their first four LPs, James Taylor and David Brown (who record together as the Patrick Swayze amalgam Swayzak) crafted a signature dub-techno sound popping with twists and melancholy cool each time. They were masters at subtle variations on a theme, even when 2004’s Loops From Bergerie saw them push for pop aesthetics while honing their pure Underworld dance chops. The results may have been mixed, but they were often exciting and always interesting. Even when something didn’t quite fit the mold, the subtle awkwardness pushed the finished product into unique territory.

That twitching glimmer of creative angst is hard to find on Some Other Country. While the instrumentals carry their own weight (mixing James Holden glitches, acid synths, classic sounding pads, and round 4/4 beats into atmospheric works of bouncy house), the overbearing use of wimpy vocals derails most of the motion toward serious artistic expression. The majority of Some Other Country has these shitty, lovelorn, emotronica vocals, the likes of which hurts the chances of Hybrid’s Morning View from aging well, tragically pairing with the London-based duo’s perfection of anally clean production to drive away any interest outside emo-pop refugees.

By the time the hard-hitting, moody, thankfully speechless deep house number “By The Rub Of Love” gives my headphones a baby slap, I find it difficult to care any more (even with tracks like the progressive, intelligent acid-influenced “Distress & Calling,” which tweaks dance muscles like it’s 1989). I can’t help but wonder if Taylor’s fatherhood sabbatical may have soured this fluffy direction somewhat. Perhaps a focus on a new, totally different project would force some inspiration in here. As is, this is Black Dog Swayze on cruise-control heading straight to video.

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