There's a reason that moles are reserved as mascots for minor-league sports teams and hard-luck high schools. Nebbish and snout-y, it's an animal that rarely inspires more than sympathy. The moniker has never quite fit Colin de la Plante's work as The Mole, either, beginning in 2008 when the Canadian producer busted out with his vibrant, busy debut LP, As High as the Sky, which sounded like someone slapped the art school out of Theo Parrish's Ugly Edits series. The album made it seem like it was possibly time to crown a new filter-disco king, but the intervening years have seen de la Plante keep a relatively low profile, dropping singles for a spattering of Canadian labels while largely staying away from interviews and mixes. His latest offering is If I Had a Nickel, the first release on Maybe Tomorrow, a new label that de la Plante has started with Kompakt's Jon Berry.
The release is his second offering this year, following the overlooked Love Is the Way EP on Haunt. Six tracks long, If I Had a Nickel is really a traditional two-song single dressed in an EP's clothes, padding two long cuts with transitory clouds of space dust. He remains a maven for looped repetition, and the psychedelic ephemerals he sprinkles on his tracks increasingly paint him as the disco-house formalist who took the brown acid (though if last year's rambling, goofy interview with Resident Advisor is any indication, weed appears to be his preferred narcotic).
The title track is the darker and more contemplative of the two feature-length cuts, living on a thick, stone-simple bassline that allows de la Plante to add and subtract elements randomly without losing momentum. Meandering, drizzly keyboards and washes of brown ambience move the track into a free-flowing, jammy space that, intentionally or not, never coalesces into anything truly memorable. On "I Twist You Turn," though, de la Plante's returns to his familiar crop-circle disco, making precise, alien patterns out of simple source material: live-sounding drums, a delightfully obscured, cheesecloth vocal sample, and a wonky, playful synth. It's perhaps not that different from what he was doing in 2008, but it's less tethered and looser. When de la Plante follows it with two minutes of silky ambience, it feels like the closing argument of a thesis: it's house music, but house music at his pace, in his purview.