Unai A Love Moderne

[Force Tracks; 2006]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: electronica, minimal/tech house, micro-house
Others: Luomo, Dub Taylor, SCSI-9

Five years after his first album, Rebel Swing, Swedish producer Erik Möller's project Unai has returned, now nestled, sweet tooth exposed and shining forth, at the masthead of the good ship Force Tracks. A Love Moderne abounds with top-notch programming: thick, repetitive synths, thumping four-on-the-floor grooves, and perfectly placed electronic nuances are tightly bound together in a form of micro-pop that is both tasteful and danceable. When opener "Oh You and I" reaches its reverb-wet woodblock peak, you know you are in the more-than-capable hands of an expert. Tracks like "I Like Your Style" and "Youngkiss" fulfill the expectations laid from the beginning, while more interesting and divergent moments, like the sound scanning intro of "Lucky Bastard,'' prove Möller's ability to play with sound in a realm free of the security of the steady beat.

Möller's buried and effect-heavy vocals are rarely discernable and mostly unreachable though, leaving one wanting a better idea of the music's verbal accompaniments to flesh out this treatise on modern love. Tonally, however, the vocals express ample amounts of longing, powerlessness, and doubt to intimate the subject of his words once you wade through the effects and mixing. Coupling the emotive indefiniteness of the vocals with the music's cocksure sheen, one surmises that modern love for Möller is about presentation and performance smothering content and depth. Thus, the music's superficial shininess really, well, shines, while the issues of the heart are hard-pressed to surface. But if the music's meaning is about compression and subsequent loss of meaning, then if one doesn't pick up this message, the music will have enacted exactly what it attempts to mean, a more admirable feat than pure commentary. Message or no, Unai's tracks will be some of the better stuff spinning the dance floor this year.

1. Oh You and I
2. Heart Is to the Left
3. I Like Your Style
4. Lucky Bastard
5. Youngkiss
6. Blissfull Burden
7. Steps to Heaven are Steps to Me
8. Moderne Love
9. Exit Wounds