Renaissance Man Call2Call

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Renaissance Man's name may sound a bit presumptuous, but there's a bit of truth behind the moniker. As part of the newly reinvented and techno-focused Turbo Recordings roster, the Finnish duo's members, Downtown and Jaxxon, have made a name for themselves as purveyors of a unique sound: infectiously loopy and low-slung club music that lies somewhere between UK funky, techno, bass, and house, often relying upon heavy percussion, synth squalls, and abundant low end. It's a formula that has proven relatively successful for Renaissance Man, who made a splash with its 2011 full-length, The Renaissance Man Project, but its newest effort, Call2Call, finds the duo taking these production methods for a decidedly darker, harder-edged, and weirder spin.

The six-track EP starts off with the sample-laden title track, which features everyday noises such as phone touch-tones and dial tones, as well as the subtle click of a receiver being put back into place. These sounds coalesce into a catchy arpeggio, which is juxtaposed with gritty synth squelches and bass over a skittery beat. It's a bold start, but it's also a very accurate primer as to what the rest of the record—in both its successes and its pitfalls—is like. Renaissance Man certainly has a talent for arranging creative melodies from seemingly mundane sounds; aside from the creative use of phone samples on the title track, the duo revisits this technique on the club-friendly "Hot Mobile," which features a percussive lead made up of what sounds like the clicks, taps, and clanks of typewriter keys.

At the same time, however, Call2Call can prove a bit frustrating, in that Renaissance Man often underuses this talent in favor of a more rhythm-driven sound. Closer "Supercell," for example, features an energetic rhythm crafted from resounding kick drums and bass, but the production gets a bit too wrapped up in how bombastic it is, seemingly relying on the sheer force of its percussion and not much else, making the track's ominous melody a sort of buried afterthought. The shaker-laden "Areeba" suffers from this same issue to a lesser degree, but it's much more tolerable; the strange lead blends well with the shuffling beat, and a pretty melody does get the opportunity to shine for a short time before being extinguished by the track's finish.

That's not to say that Call2Call isn't a good listen, though; the record features much more good than bad—and even then, this record's pitfalls aren't particularly grave. "Moov," for example, strikes a perfect balance between percussion and melody, its rhythm sounding almost primal. Hyped-up horn samples up the ante, and a menacing arpeggio steps in to maintain the track's high-energy vibes when the beat drops out of the mix. "Kish Free Zone" operates in much the same manner, coupling a skittery, clap-heavy rhythm with elastic bass and a bombastic organ lead. In the end, Call2Call may not be the record that establishes Downtown and Jaxxon as veritable renaissance men, but it's certainly an enjoyable effort.