Various Artists Dual Form
Even for a compilation, Dual Form is a bit all over the map, incorporating almost every conceivable sound that fits under Matthewdavid's and Leaving's creative umbrella. From hazy, off-kilter beats and new new age to repurposed '80s R&B and even cheeky synth pop, the collection is clearly more focused on showing off its diversity than forming any sort of cohesive image from its contributions.
Dual Form's most intriguing offering comes early on with its second track, "Visions," by British producer The Cyclist. Following an avant-jazz, Tortoise-esque "Untitled" offering, "Visions" is an immediately necessary breath of fresh air. Beginning with the clang of trashy bells, the song unfolds into a piece of abstract dance music, its kick drums and rounded bass pushed beneath layers of static and textured percussion. In its own way, "Visions" is a very creative take on dance music, one that uses the steady rhythms and repetition of the genres merely as posts for hanging more off-kilter elements—in this case, a loop of subtle snaps and a single chord which appears every so often throughout the song's five-plus-minute run.
Unfortunately, tracks of a similar caliber are not easy to find throughout the rest of the compilation. Further down the tracklist, yuk. serves up a highlight with "Atimo"—a 90-second tune in the vein of classic, blissed-out beat work—and Russian producer Lapti turns in one of the record's most accesible tracks with "Peace"—an electro workout which pits floating, '80s-style chords beneath a barrage of cleverly programmed drums. Even some of the collection's stranger offerings, such as Ssaliva's "Congo Dawn" and Dntel's hyperly melodic "Windy Windy" come close, but really, "Visions" stands as the most inventive piece the compilation has to offer.
Where Dual Form really falters is when it tries to incorporate MCs; whether it's the sloppy hip-hop of Davis' "Into the Night"—which features a droopy beat from Matthewdavid and largely incomprehensible vocals from Serengeti—or the Def Jux-reminscent "Beacon" from SoundWizard BZB & MC Set. And while the remaining contributors do their best to inject their own eccentric production takes into the affair, seldom do they land on anything that strikes the listener as more than just a one-off or throw-away beat. In the end, despite its packaging as a double-cassette or double-LP collection, listening to Dual Form is more or less akin to skipping through all its contributors' SoundCloud pages on any given day.
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