More and more all the time, it seems electronic musicians generally do not care any more, as the more popular an artist in the genre is, he or she then steps outside the box. Prime examples of this are Germany’s Break 3000 and James Flavour (a.k.a Dirt Crew), who have enjoyed measurable success since debuting in 2006 with The First Chapter. The Dirt Crew has enjoyed high ratings, as well as staff picks-status from the likes of Mixmag, XLR8R, and 365mag; received a glowing feature in IDJ; and performed as a headliner at Soundwave for three straight years. However, despite the praise and its productive output, the Dirt Crew’s third album, Blow, displays little discernible evolution as artists. Original sound design seems to be an alien concept to the duo, or it is simply not worth the effort, considering the group’s modest level of notability in the scene.
Like The First Chapter and 2007’s RAW before it, Blow is yet another heaping helping of predictable Apple loops point-and-clicked together in Ableton Live. As such, “uhn-tssk-uhn-tssk-uhn-tssk” is the order of the day. The album has no dynamic range and refuses to step out of the 4/4 beat trenches that were dug in Chicago warehouses some 20 years ago. Each track bobs along with the odd catalog melody placed on top until it unnoticeably and unenthusiastically flows into the next. For those with no sense of history or awareness of Richie Hawtin’s current projects, it may sound refreshingly minimal. But to those with enough wherewithal to claim a distinctive taste, the kind of people who have that classic “tssk” hi-hat permanently burned in their ears, it comes off as an uninspired rehashing of old sounds that adds nothing to make them fresh again. Ableton Live is capable of much more than this, as Longwalkshortdock’s debut, Casual Tea, immutably attests. With that album in the world, it is easy to see that Blow sure does what it says.
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