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Electronic music’s Renaissance man Travis Stewart, better known as Machinedrum, drops ‘Vapor City’ his first full-length offering since his critically heralded ‘Room(s)’ in 2011.
Conceptually based on recurring dreams he has had for years about an unknown metropolis, Stewart has finally crafted a fully formed soundscape which doubles as a map into this imaginary universe. “‘Vapor City’ is an album inspired by a dream city,” explains Stewart. “A collection of different songs each representing different districts in the city.”
Combining the speed of skittering jungle / juke rhythms with enveloping half speed basslines, atmospheric pads, lush piano chords and disembodied vocal samples, he's created the perfect backdrop for a trip through his invisible city. Opener (and single track) 'Gunshotta' twists old school jungle and ragga vox with a post-dubstep emotive soul and electronic depth. Hardcore shifter 'Infinite Us' combines rough beats with sparkling synth spirals with rising notes, while 'Don’t 1 2 Lose U' reimagines old school R&S rave with 2013 digital kit, juke rhythms and that post-Burial, post-Blake emotion. Taking a bit of a breather in the BPMs 'Center Your Love' offers a swooning female vocal and Boards Of Canada style detuned keyboard lines at the centre of rolling head-nod break. Heavily treated yearning vocals over a rolling junglist rhythm make 'Rise N Fall' another outstanding cut here, with 'U Still Lie' bringing an 80s electro ballad feel to the proceedings, and closer 'Baby It’s U' offering R&B suffocating under the crunch, crackle and rumble of current alt-step production sounds.
The perfect counterbalance to the wave of harsh stadium-friendly no-brain EDM bro-step that passes for 'dance music' these days.