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Frozen & Broken

(Noise Factory; US: 9 Dec 2008; UK: Available as import)

Detroit is such a quintessentially American city that it’s easy to forget that it’s right on the Ontario border, about a four hour drive from Toronto, the home field of Greogry De Rocher, aka Lowfish. Even more so than his onetime Suction Records co-executive Jason Amm (Solvent), Lowfish has always seemed like an outlier product of each of the two cities, like Drexciya with universal health care. As for inspirations on the Lowfish sound, I’d also throw another industrial town in there for good measure too; Sheffield. While De Rocher’s absorption of the auto-mechanics of the motor city certainly partners easily with Sheffield and the Human League’s “Dignity of Labour”, De Rocher has also, in the past, through Suction’s cutesy snow robot persona, embraced the ebullient bubblegum of Sheffield’s latter day synthpop. For some reason, I find this joy to be as uniquely Canadian as Detroit’s exterior toughness. Lowfish’s hard-soft dynamic celebrates both, and rightly so.

De Rocher’s been milking this transcontinental synergy for some time now and the results have been compelling, if, as Frozen and Broken proves, somewhat uniform. Frozen and Broken does not add anything new to Lowfish’s catalogue, besides a slight ambulation towards the American border. The hard electroserpentine bass feels more pronounced than ever before and, on tracks like “Pulled & Put Back”, competes with its electro house progenitors. Best of the bunch though are the utopian collisions of warm high end glacial synths and muscular operative machinal low end (“Knives”, “DFD”), those moments that made Suction Records so special. De Rocher’s tweaks to his formula may be minor, but good electro-house is good electro-house, timelessly functional like all robot labor. Also like all robot labor, Lowfish remains hard at work.


Timothy Gabriele is a writer who studied English and Film at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst. He currently lives in the New Haven, CT region with his fmaily. His column, The Difference Engine, appears regularly at PopMatters. He can be found twittering @Wildcorrective and blogging at 555 Enterprises.

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