Like many of his peers who first rose to prominence toward the end of the '00s, Dave Huismans hasn't made dubstep for a while now. Prior to 2010, his 2562 alias (he also produces as A Made Up Sound) was a vessel for music that was fast, agile, and rhythmically complex; moreover, his tracks had a lightness to them that seemed in opposition to most dubstep artists at the time, who, to varying degrees, applied reverb and sub-bass in thicker, sploshier strokes. That Huismans has retained the 2562 name in 2014 feels significant, because while he's abandoned the lung-busting 140 bpm tempos—like almost everyone else—his music has retained the bristly textures and smog-like atmospheres of his formative early output on Pinch's Tectonic imprint.
As the title suggests, The New Today edges Huismans into fresh territory, albeit in a direction that he's been pursuing for a couple of years now. As with Fever, his last album, and the subsequent Air Jordan EP, The New Today is stuffed with obscure samples—melodies, snares, hi-hats and other pieces of sound are cleaved from new age cassettes, Krautrock, and musique concrete. The New Today, though, stands apart from his previous LP, both in content and form; through a set of meticulously spun disco samples, Fever was, in its own oddball way, a recognizably house- and techno-leaning record. The New Today feels pretty far removed from that; as an album, it's a much more meditative experience.
A lot of that comes from The New Today's surgically precise sound design and the sheer quantity of sonic detail. "Arrival" is a typically atmospheric opener of droning, feedback-laden tones and dystopic fields of fine white noise, overlaid with the occasional cluster of bleeps and, towards the end, a loop of what sounds like the distant cough of an engine trying to start. "Terraforming" wanders around for nearly 10 minutes, collecting similar scraps of sound that encircle, crowd around, and poke at the track's ambidextrous drum programming; as the song takes shape, samples move elliptically to create melodic mosaics that hold together for a while and then steadily recede out of earshot.
There's no question that The New Todaysounds fantastic, but once the listener gets past its chassis, the LP feels like it's missing something fundamental. It's hard to say what. The record's first half works its way steadily and enjoyably from ambient techno soundscaping into the aptly named "Utopia," a billowing, operatic wail of fluttering organ notes and earth-cracking drums, but the album seems to lose its way a little after this vertiginous peak. The LP's next track, "Drumroll," is built entirely around a rattling snare that swells into an even greater crescendo, which, at such close proximity to "Utopia," is a little much.
Perhaps The New Today's biggest problem, though, is that there isn't enough of it. Eight songs is rather slight for an album of such patent ambition; the other (somewhat contradictory) issue here is that the songs themselves feel like they're each carrying a bit too much weight. Where "Cosmic Bounce," with its crystal chimes and its punchy, piston-like stabs, gets its proportions right, the booming war drums and anxious guitar loop of "Cauldron" feel sluggish and heavyset. The New Today is a solid effort that, with a couple of snips here and there, would've made a great EP. As it is, it's too short, a bit too heavy, and in need of some of the athleticism that Huismans once exhibited so effortlessly.