Posted by: Dominic Umile | 09/11/2009

Published Elsewhere: Lusine, The Gentleman Losers, Tectonic Plates

Tectonic IIRemix Magazine posted my review of a new electronic record from Seattle’s Jeff Lusine McIlwain this week. Along with that, I’ve also been writing some brief pieces for PopMatters’ Short Takes section. Links and some downloads after the jump.

Ghostly International issued Lusine’s A Certain Distance earlier this week — it’s a sleek serving of electronic pop and techno sometimes infused with conversation bits and odd loops. [EDIT: The following review originally appeared on Remix Magazine’s web site in September of 2009, before all of their content was folded into Emusician’s. I’ve reposted here because my review is unavailable on Emusician’s site.]

The latest full-length to be issued under Jeff McIlwain’s Lusine moniker twinkles with crystalline flourishes that suggest overtweaking and hours of careful, detail-oriented sound design. A Certain Distance‘s serving of structured electronic pop and ambient techno feels intimate and layered, with somewhat-obscured conversation bits and room noise becoming apparent in every listen.

A Certain DistanceLusine‘s A Certain Distance is mostly wordless, but the Seattle-based producer welcomes guest vocalists Vilja Larjosto and Caitlin Sherman on several tracks. The former’s spot lends the final gloss to “Twilight,” which has nothing to do with the underwhelmingly sexless vampire novels of the same name—in a glitchy percussion pattern and dewy melodies, McIlwain’s arrangement here lands in the neighborhood of the electro-pop that Ghostly’s hip School of Seven Bells has been developing. Sherman’s contribution is chopped and scattered amid hypnotic synth swirls and warm funk on “Gravity,” the only decipherable word in the mix.

In place of a central vocalist, McIlwain’s petite, shuffling base is sometimes peppered with vocoders or heavily treated verse segments. He employs this device sparingly, such as on unexpected house track “Crowded Room” toward the album’s close. This symmetrical endeavor—equal parts dance music and upbeat pop—should find advocates of both genres welcoming its glassy, potent sonics with open arms. [3.5 out of 5 stars]

Visit XLR8R to download album closer “Cirrus,” a micro-sized symphony that builds on the scant elements that open it, only to cap off A Certain Distance in an ambient haze of abrupt loops and snappy synth melody. Update: You can also find album track “Gravity” (and a great deal more) over at Modyfier, a site I haven’t visited in a long time, and I’m looking forward to checking out what I’ve missed.

DustlandMy writeups of The Gentleman Losers’ record and the new Tectonic Plates collection went live at PopMatters. The opening few seconds of the former is a real treat — “Honey Bunch” is buttery smooth, coated with flickering pedal steel guitar and wobbly tremolo from the get-go. You can listen to all of The Gentleman Losers’ Dustland when you click to read my review.

Tectonic Plates, Vol. II is another mighty assortment of dubstep and the like from Pinch’s label, Tectonic (read my Orlando Weekly piece on the first installment here). Pinch is going to be in NYC next Friday night for Dub War — check that out if you’re in the vicinity, and Benga & Skream will be on hand for 9/19’s Trouble & Bass event at Le Poisson Rouge. 2562 makes a couple of appearances on Tectonic…II, and he just completed a free mix for Fact Magazinegrab that one here. As always, thanks for reading.

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