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  • Filed under: Review
  • 12/11/2012

Don Froth REflex

If anything has defined the output of the fledgling UNO label thus far, it's been a willingness to get behind unsung producers of all stripes, from Fur's smoothly contoured post-microhouse to Gobby's outright psychotic takes on techno. Don Froth's UNO debut, REflex, is more than garish enough to sit among their madcap ranks. The four originals here show a producer attuned to current dance music trends—there are hints of recent UK mutations here, especially in terms of sub-bass—who's also defiantly determined to put his own colorful, unpredictable stamp on it.

The title track's groove comes in fragments, but never quite locks into comfortability. Bass and acid lines tentatively squiggle around the corners next to odd zaps and reverb-drenched stabs, and in spite of—or perhaps because of—this busy arrangement, its drums seem to stumble. It's a depiction of some ungodly hour past peaktime, and its sluggishness feels like a symptom of overlubrication. The producer drops a deadpan, come-hither female vocal on top, but her beckoning is practically desexualized by the manic arrangement. "Vap," meanwhile, is a build-and-release piece, alternating from subtle, wheezy drones to stepping electro laden with squashed rave chords. "Tunnelvision" has a similar step, but its simple main melody and pervasive vocals, which coo out into a kind of echo chamber, seem to lead it astray. It's an odd combination of upfront, swaggering elements and a meandering runtime. Anthony "Shake" Shakir seems a wise choice to remix the title track, as the producer is certainly no stranger to crazed, chaotic pieces. Still, with practically all of the original elements intact, Shakir's remix—which the label recently offered up as a free download—is more of a rearrangement, albeit with added shrill pads and a deeper pocket for the bassline. As a result, the listener is reinserted into Don Froth's fantastically sloppy nightclub. It's an interesting complement to Shakir's recent remix of Lando Kal's "Help Myself," which tailored a similar sense of excess to a more svelte result. To close proceedings, Don Froth reins in his wildness for "Untitled B," a gem of a track and the doubtless best on the EP. His usual loopiness is present, as panning congas, vocal chatters and "uh"s, and a delayed bird-like whistle all make appearances. But he smartly ties the track together with a slinky, ultra-low bassline and shimmering chords, both of which are fleshed out enough to temper his hectic eccentricity—without sacrificing liveliness.

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