The last couple of years has seen a succession of back-to-basics, historically minded revisions of house and techno emerge from New York City. Max McFerren is a relatively new name, having only released his first record towards the tail-end of last year, but he's nevertheless part of a bubbling resurgence of raw but playful dance music. His latest EP, Put It Up with That, is seeing release through Lamin Fofana's Sci-Fi & Fantasy imprint and finds McFerren building upon the template of insistent, wriggling techno that characterized his previous two 12"s.
Opening track "Put It Up with That (I Need U2)" starts off with a heavy 4/4 and clipped diva vocal samples, eventually building things up with elastic bass and squiggling synth lines that plateau with the titular "I need you" vocal samples. It's a serious tune that maintains a playful tension throughout, freely laying elements on top of each other, then veering off sideways for a breather, keeping both the energy and sleaze levels at a maximum throughout. "Juice" opts for a more restrained path of slow, shuffling techno, marrying its rhythm with insistent hi-hats and a slick vocal sample to create a sense of luxurious late-night atmosphere.
The true climax of the EP is the excellently named "Chinatown Club Jam 100 F." The sprawling track is exactly what it says on the package, as its skipping house beat, moody strings, and impossibly hooky piano line evoke the gritty, sweat-soaked ideal of clubbing in downtown NYC. Put It Up with That's final track, "Stroke," closes the record out on its most clearly techno-influenced note, offering skittering hats, thumping 4/4, and disorientingly chopped-up vocal samples.
There's little doubt that McFerren is onto something here. Alongside peers such as Young Male and the White Material label, the producer is drawing on equal parts romanticism of New York's nightlife history, gritty American dance-music vernaculars, and heady techno imported straight from Berghain. Max McFerren hasn't been producing for long, and as a result, Put It Up With That is not the most consistent record, but it's one that still feels vital from this promising producer.