Calling Berlin-via-Brooklyn producer Travis Stewart multifaceted is something of a gross understatement. Aside from the fact that the guy already made that point himself in 2010, he continues to deliver all manners of electronic music at an alarming rate, primarily under the name Machinedrum, but also in collaboration with Praveen Sharma (a.k.a. Braille) as Sepalcure. If you comb through Stewart's decade-long discography, you'll find an array of different sounds and styles; from electro to hip-hop to house, he's dipped his toes into just about every stylistic pool imaginable. His new record, a five-track EP called SXLND, is no different, and acts as a sort of cross section of the current world of Machinedrum.
It's certainly a testament to Stewart's varied abilities that no two productions on SXLND really sound all that similar. The EP opens with slow-swelling atmospheres and some wub-wub bass tones on the brief "Take Good Care" before giving way to the bouncy title track, which was recently used for "NEEDSUMLUV" by of-the-moment female singer/rapper Azealia Banks. (That should give you some idea of the tune's inherent pop sensibilities.) Moving forward, the deeply melodic centerpiece, "No Respect," floats somewhere between Stewart's ethereal work with Sepalcure and the rawer bass-music experimentations found on his solid Room(s) LP, while "Van Vogue" is undoubtedly a valiant attempt at incorporating the, uh, in-vogue style of vogue house with Machinedrum's sound, however ill-defined it may be.
And that's just it: Both the strengths and weaknesses in Stewart's music stem from his constant chameleonic shape-shifting. Fans of Machinedrum can always rely on well-produced tracks that are more or less guaranteed to be up to date with whatever is currently happening in the ever-changing realms of "underground" dance music, but you can never be too sure what styles each record will bring to the table. You'd be hard pressed to identify a Machinedrum track without having heard it already. (For instance, closing cut "DDD" is an awesome slice of straightfoward house with a real classic vibe, but it could've just as easily come from the likes of Jacques Greene or Julio Bashmore.) While jumping from one pond to the next with a producer could be exciting for some, others might prefer an artist who's a touch more consistent.