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Album Review: A View of U (October 9, 2020) – Machinedrum 

By Evan Cardinal, Albright '21

Album Review: A View of U (October 9, 2020) – Machinedrum 

The Context – Revolutionized by the likes of English artists Aphex Twin and Autechre, intelligent dance music (IDM) is a subgenre of electronica known for its blend of ambient sounds and artistic experimentation better suited for more casual listening rather than raving on the dance floor of a European discothèque. Although the nomenclature prompts vitriolic responses from producers, critics, and listeners alike, IDM remains in the electronica Zeitgeist thanks to the efforts of artists such as Machinedrum.

The American-based Machinedrum has been an IDM and glitch hop (a sonic cousin of IDM) leader since the release of his 2001 debut Now You Know. Prior to the release of his latest record A View of U, The producer released the Berry Patch – EP towards the end of January 2020 with fellow bass-artist Miguel Oliveira (known by the stage name Holly). The four-track collection on the EP is rather demonstrative as its packed with heavy bass and in-your-face distortions. However, Berry Patch does not stray far from the IDM subgenre as heard in the soothing interludes of tracks like “Goji.”

The Content – “The Relic” opens A View of U akin to IDM with a juxtaposition between thrashing, pulsating beats and pop-layered strings backing Rochelle Jordan’s alluring vocals. The melodramatic momentum continues in “Star”—a laid-back, yet synth-heavy track. The fresh flow of rapper Freddie Gibbs is complimented well with the trumpet-laden backdrop in “Kane Train” albeit sounding more like a release from Gibbs than its producer. Jesse Boykins III minimalist and slow-paced vocals on “Wait 4 U” underscores Machinedrum’s fast-paced thumping production on the track.

Pianos take the reins once again on “Sleepy Pietro,” where Machinedrum manipulates a beautiful arrangement from Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan into electronic crescendo. Machinedrum opens “Spin Blocks” with a soothing wind sound that quickly changes into a grooving trap beat for Atlanta rapper and producer Father. “Idea 36” serves a pleasant interlude to another upbeat selection packed with arcade-like effects in “Believe in U.” The pacey and dreamy production and vocals on the five-minute “1000 Miles” sets up the lively sounds of “Inner Eye” and “Ur2yung” that close the record.

The Skinny – Machinedrum’s A View of U LP builds upon the momentum of Berry Patch as it provides an energetic feel indicative of the IDM discography. The vocal as well as instrumental features—namely from Rochelle Jordan, Freddie Gibbs, Tigran Hamasyan, and Father—provide astute compliments to Machinedrum’s artistic assortment in terms of production. A View of U does not possess any jaw-dropping or rather revolutionary advances from its artist, yet it remains a tightly focused record that makes for an enjoyable listen.

The Rating – 6.7/10

A View of U

  1. The Relic (feat. Rochelle Jordan)
  2. Star (feat. Mono/Poly & Tanerélle)
  3. Kane Train (feat. Freddie Gibbs)
  4. Wait 4 U (feat. Jesse Boykins III)
  5. Sleepy Pietro (feat. Tigran Hamasyan)
  6. Spin Blocks (feat. Father)
  7. Idea 36 (feat. Chrome Sparks)
  8. Believe in U
  9. 1000 Miles (feat. Sub Focus)
  10. Inner Eye
  11. Ur2yung