From genre-bending to sonic spoon-bending, Vlad Kudryavtsev’s fidgety and melodious album throws some real whimsy and majesty at what might loosely be called dubstep.
Genre rules need to be bent and broken, something that clearly isn’t a problem for this Russian producer. Palatable yet perplexing, Vlad Kudryavtsev’s fidgety compositions seem the product of an unsatisfied mind on Adderall, a living-and-breathing perpetual motion machine that only pauses to pile on. Not dissimilar to what Boxcutter has done on his four emotive Planet Mu albums, Monokle doesn’t make dubstep so much as he greedily appropriates it for his loftier aims. The results border on the unclassifiable and the majestic.
From the 303 acid warble and hushed breaks of “Homesick” to the eerie R&B slice-and-dice job “Glow,” Saints bustles relentlessly. Disinterested in pure abstraction, Monokle embraces the dancefloor, albeit in his own way. "Arrows" showcases this best, a viral miasma of inebriated pads, AFX-skitter, synth droplets, and blustery bleeps, with breathtaking moments of ebb and flow. Ambient aficionados will embrace “Embers,” and hopefully stick around when the 4/4 groove eventually emerges.
On “Slower,” singer Nadya Gritskevich appears first as a nuisance and subsequently as a textural tool, her unremarkable voice much more tolerable as abstract shadowplay than fulsome frontage. It is a rare, unfortunate stumble from an otherwise surefooted balancing act between toothsome melody and restless leg rhythm.