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CD Review: Machinedrum

Want to 1 2 (Normrex)

Machinedrum is the best producer you've never heard. Owing more to guys like Prefuse 73 or Boards of Canada than crate-diggers like J. Dilla or Madlib, Machinedrum (Travis Stewart) serves up club-ready, electro-framed jams that would fit easily into a Diplo set. His tracks are grounded in some serious synth-funk, while additional tinkering and filtering is mind-blowing without becoming distracting. Want to 1 2? plays like the sort of DJ set that leaves everyone sweating and fellow producers with their jaws on the floor. There are slick MC-tackled cuts ("Late Night Operation," "Let It"), smooth R&B-flavored jams ("In the Dust"), RJD2-inspired fare ("911," "Currents") and even the sort of hard dance tones Justice has almost trademarked ("Freshkids"). Still, what's most impressive is how Stewart manages to get his knob-twiddling on without damaging some well-designed songs. His technical prowess is fully on display, but so is his ability to program dangerously sharp hooks and persuasive grooves. Want to 1 2? offers a balance between accessibility and depth that most contemporary producers lack.

Matt Whelihan

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