One of the most improbable developments in underground dance music this year has been the continuing relevance of the broken-beat genre, hastily named to commemorate the lethal dance beats European producers have made by plundering, chopping, and flipping Afro-Cuban polyrhythms. Its standard bearers have issued several great singles (Jazzanova's "renumber" of Ian Pooley's "What's Your Number"), only to stumble with gloopy, bland "nü-jazz" full-lengths that are bloated with Rhodes piano bleats and Stevie Wonder impressions (Jazzanova's In Between).
That trend began to change this year, thanks to solid recordings such as Will "Quantic" Holland's Mishaps Happening. Far from being weighted down by pretentious soul tracks and bad songwriting, Quantic's music is fleet, edgy, and exciting, from the album's opening cut, the skittering, Brazilian-flavored title track, to the fat and funky "So Long," a collaboration with the airy songstress Alice Russell.
Mishaps Happening's cumulative power rests in Quantic's production style. His music is hard-hitting drums and vibrant bass lines; it sounds raw, unadorned, and full of positive, pure energy. It's clear he's got the funk; with luck, he'll learn to turn his talents into more than the sum of his songs.