Though upwardly mobile thanks to plundering popstars and cartoon-headed caricatures, electronic dance music remains staunchly conservative in certain subgenre pockets, where far too many comfortable conventions remain. Part of that may stem from niggling nostalgic sentiment (see: the neo-rave blissouts of Unicorn Kid) and if that’s your sort of trip then so is this assortment of Leeds-based producer Miguel Campbell’s adequate platters.
To be fair, the seemingly dated nature of this material says more about the scene than it does the artist. “Something Special”, an apparent 2011 Beatport fave, sports a functional and familiar vocal snippet over a restrained arpeggiated groove. After all, if either filter-funky “Boy” or “Love Electric” had been the A-side of a Forcetracks 12” in 2000, it would have rocked the proverbial discotheque. But 12 years later, this formula barely moves the needle on its own.
Where Campbell needs to accept some accountability comes on filler moments like “Dedicated Music” and low-rent Daft Punk mimeograph “Take Off”. They are less like natural interludes than raw unfinished doodles better left on his hard drive. Not entirely dissimilar from Sebastian Tellier’s out-there French Kitsch, shimmering electro-soul oddity “Night Moves” suffers ultimately from directionlessness, something that could have been rectified with a vocal. The less said about plodding sub-karaoke rap diversion “Life” the better.
As reliable as a Croque Monsieur in a French bistro, even the most basic and banal tech house serves a utilitarian good. Despite Luomo’s cerebral “Tessio” turning vocal house on its well-coifed head over a decade ago, and Burial’s frequent subversion of the sound by way of fractured garage, there’s still a demand for the straightforward and safe, promising a bright future for the contented likes of Campbell.
// Notes from the Road
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