Switchbox Pirates Poetry

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Nondescript. When it comes to describing dance tracks, there are few adjectives less enticing. Yet Pirates Poetry, the new EP from German duo Switchbox, is exactly that. Released on Maceo Plex's Ellum Audio, it's not surprising that the tunes fall within a very particular style of tech-house, but it is a bit surprising that they would be so damn forgettable.

The title track kicks things off, and for the first few minutes, it's an entirely standard piece of tech-house. The beat is straightforward, the pads are light and unobtrusive, and the whole thing is underpinned by lurching bass tones that are weighty without overwhelming the production. On the other hand, the song feels remarkably safe right from the jump, and Switchbox doesn't really take any sort of a risk until a vocal from NAtz is introduced just after the three-minute mark. Unfortunately, her voice isn't particularly compelling, and she ultimately brings little more than a moderately nonsensical piece of speak-sung poetry to the proceedings.

The Jupiter Jazz remix of "Pirates Poetry"—a joint effort from Maceo Plex and Danny Daze—is better. The pair picks up the tempo and toughens up the percussion, crafting something that immediately feels better suited for the club. The original's rumbling bass has been removed, but a warbling bassline has been put in its place, making the entire production more of a standard-issue Ellum Audio cut. If Maceo Plex and Danny Daze had simply stripped out the vocal, the improved production might have made the tune more of a "must listen" affair.

Pirates Poetry wraps on a bit of an unusual note, concluding with a Switchbox remix of Swedish producer dreamAwaken's "8 Bit in a Bit." It's another polished slice of cruising tech-house, and the first track that doesn't include a guest vocal. The drum sounds are crunchier than those found on the EP's other two selections, and the synths are overdriven just enough to give the song a sort of rough-and-tumble edge. Nevertheless, it's ultimately a very tracky outing. Sure, all the elements sound good on their own merits and the tune has been precisely assembled, but it also lacks invention and doesn't have much in the way of "wow" moments. Much like the rest of the EP, it's functional, but even for the tech-house diehards, it's probably not going to take up permanent residence in too many record boxes.