Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Mark Eremite | Seoul, South Korea | 02/19/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I wasn't sure what to expect going into this album. I really enjoyed volume one, and I loved volume two. The problem was that Soma Recordings told each of their guest DJs that they were limited to no genre or style. Volume one was much housier, while volume two was minimal techno, making it hard to compare the two. Add to this that while I liked much of Smoke's albums, there is also much on them that I found off-putting and incomprehensible. He's a very dark, pulled-back musician, creating songs that hide a lot of their tonality in disturbing shadows.
He shows here, though, what he can do when he's asked to create over an hour's worth of music, an aural pastiche of the style and skill that he brings to his own albums. It's suitably delectable and grim, but there are a few moody gaps that keep it from being a truly impressive five star album.
He opens with "Gutted," a mournful melody by Burial (I say that like there are any Burial songs that aren't mournful). It's not a very surprising choice, given Smoke's style, but it's also fairly effective as a mood setter. A little more surprising is Smoke's decision to follow this with two barely-there jazzy tracks that suck all the life out of Smoke's workable opener.
Oh, but then Rhythm & Sound's sexy-dirty "See Mi Version" comes on and all is forgiven. Smoke does a magical job of taking this song's light-fingered raunchiness and using it to infect the next ten minutes of the set, making sure to add enough snarkiness (especially in a song whose title I don't think I'm allowed to type here) to keep the sequence from getting dreary.
This is followed by Aril Brikha's "Aqua," a perpetual motion machine of a song that would be useful if it weren't eight dull minutes long. Five minutes too many means this bridge steals attention away from the nasty urgency he just laced the set with. Our next two tracks -- "Detroit: One Circle" and "Xenia" -- bring that urgency back, laced with an enticing fever dreamishness.
He does a beautiful job of gouging some funky grooves into that sound, making the mood jumpier, more scabrous and menacing, until he hits a solid climax with one of his own tracks, the gritty and adrenalized "Pingu." The final fifteen minutes of the set Smoke bumbles with, first making it manic and messy ("Squat") and then agitating the sound with alienating fades ("Always& Forever"). 2000 & One's "Fokuz" is the closing number. It's quiet and overly sober until the final three minutes, where Smoke executes a much more appropriate and graceful closing flourish.
If you're already a fan of Smoke, you'll like this album. If you've never heard him before, expect a mostly gorgeous, if not dim and grim experience."