Sometimes it feels as though there are two different sides to Washington, DC/Berlin-based production duo Benoit & Sergio. Sure, at a basic level there are literally two of them, but moving beyond the physical, there appears to be a concerted attempt to meld two musical halves into a cohesive whole. Nowhere has this been more obvious than with "Let Me Count the Ways," the duo's new single on Spectral Sound, which once again finds Benoit & Sergio blending clinical tech-house with a slick, European synth-pop aesthetic.
Featuring three different versions—Original, Extended, and Autumn Mix—and propulsively driven by a motorik rhythm, "Let Me Count the Ways" is a close spiritual successor to their three-track single "Where the Freaks Have No Name," which came out earlier this year on Visionquest. Most notably, that record's "Walk and Talk" is fueled by a suspiciously familiar bassline. Recycling aside, "Let Me Count the Ways" does simplify the group's formula by stripping away the vocal complexity of earlier tracks in favor of an emotive chant. Sergio Giorgini wistfully repeats, "Let me count the ways/The ways of our love" in time with the ebb and flow of lushly programmed analog synth pads.
However, where the single really shines is on the enigmatically titled "Autumn Mix," which loosens the controlled tightness of the original and allows Benoit & Sergio to explore some new sonic territory. With the same basic rhythm, the "Autumn Mix" constructs a cavernous, dub-like room with motifs that narcotically float in and out. Yello-like percussive grunts, echoed LFO sirens, a garbled, amelodic spoken word, and analog synth-brass all kiss the rhythm without sticking to it.
As a whole, "Let Me Count the Ways" represents a step forward for the duo, albeit a small one. By making lean the pair's usually baroque arrangements, the release points the way towards a polished, dancefloor-friendly sound that suits the unique duality of Benoit & Sergio's production aesthetic.