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  • Filed under: Review
  • 10/28/2013

Mr. Beatnick The Synthetes Trilogy

It's unlikely that Mr. Beatnick often finds himself short on ideas. Though his output has not been particularly prolific over the past few years, the Londoner's productions have consistently been given free reign to exist just about anywhere on the spectrum of disco-flecked, sample-based, acid-tinged deep house—the sort that has more in common with outfits like Black Jazz Consortium or Metro Area than the bass-focused variants favored by many of his UK counterparts. Despite his diverse tastes, the Synthetes Trilogy is a rather cohesive effort. Built from Mr. Beatnick's three-EP series (Synthetes, Sun Goddess, and Savannah) that began back in 2011, along with a handful of new productions, the 12-track long-player helps connect the dots between the producer's varied styles.

On the surface, Mr. Beatnick's music isn't complicated—and that's not a bad thing. Taking occasional ventures off into particularly jazz-flecked or space-destined territory, his productions concern themselves with house music in some of its most classic forms, utilizing what (or at least what sounds like) analog machines, soul-drenched samples, and plenty of inventive percussion to accomplish the task. Still, The Synthetes Trilogy never feels overrun with vintage references; Mr. Beatnick seems to have simply decided on a similar set of tools as his predecessors in order to make his current productions. This decision likely puts the extra-deep sub-bass and otherworldly sonic structures that mark much of the UK's current club music out of his reach, but it also helps make his work distinct.

Using this formula, Mr. Beatnick has landed on some very fertile mixtures throughout his run of EPs, and those choice cuts again make for noteworthy appearances on this collection. The opening "Synthetes" and "Symbiosis" sound particularly Metro Area-inspired, with lush layers of strings floating atop skipping drum-machine rhythms and analog basslines that seem to percolate from the bottom up. Mr. Beatnick's knack for playful bass synths is another quality that comes into better focus on this collection; whether he is crafting sparse, moody cuts like "Beneath The Reef" and "Waning Moon" (one of the LP's new efforts), sun-kissed, filter-tweaked house on "Sun Goddess," or accelerated spurts of tension-filled hardware music on "Savannah," the tracks' restless basslines consistently provide an essential momentum to each production. Striking a balance between having active low end, but not being too busy, can be a difficult task, but Mr. Beatnick proves to be up for the challenge and in the end, this helps his productions stand out.

In truth, The Synthetes Trilogy's one downfall may be that it runs a little long. Having chosen to switch out a handful of tracks from the original EP series in order to include four new efforts, the record ultimately offers 13 tracks, though many of its new productions (with the exception of the aforementioned "Waning Moon") seem a bit unnecessary—especially the closing, break-heavy "Never Dies," which comes out of nowhere while operating well above 140 bpm. In the end though, The Synthetes Trilogy fares better as a collection than as an album in the traditional sense, and it still proves that no matter what form it is presented in, Mr. Beatnick's work over the last three years has certainly been worthy of exploration.

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