Public Information continue their endlessly intriguing journey through some imagined, a-chronological archive with this debut release from Bay Area producer Austin Cesear. In a sense Cruise Forever is not so dissimilar from the murky fog of Ekoplekz's Dromilly Vale or the psychedelic play of F.C. Judd's concrete experiments. But when listening to this album in the context of the label's past releases, it's the differences, rather than the commonalities, that are striking.
Within the first minute of opener "Cloud Hall" it becomes apparent that this is—almost—a dance floor album. Yes, the longer tracks are interspersed with often-gorgeous, beatless interludes: "Mountain Ascension" is windswept but muzzy, as if heard in some stoned dream (and a fine companion to Konx-Om-Pax's recent "Glacier Mountain Descent," if you happen to be assembling an alpinism-themed mixtape). "Forest Forever" is more claustrophobic, underpinned with a foreboding sub rumble.
But the main events here are, for all intents and purposes, dance tracks. "The Groove" thrives on the ketamine weirdness of mnml—right down to the pitched down vocal monologue—while the nine-minute "Shut In" opens suspended in the amniotic ooze of Basic Channel's most soporific dub fantasias, before launching into a rhythmic loop which is unexpectedly breezy but nonetheless clearly indebted to Berlin.
Still, everything is sketch-like, more concerned with exploring the potential of the materials to hand rather than serving any external function. Even the most conventional dance floor offerings start and end abruptly, following strange, unfinished parabolas—take "The Beast," which seems geared up for another five minutes of gurning, throbbing propulsion when it abruptly draws to a halt. In this way Cesear's productions, much like those of Actress, can be quite barefaced in their homages to the dance floor without seeming to participate in the same culture and conventions: yes, many of these tracks could be described as house or techno, but you're unlikely to hear them played out any time soon.
A puzzling assortment of music, then. But what binds all of these tracks together—be they long or short, imposing or compellingly insubstantial—is a focus on the manipulation of microscopic details. Elements drift imperceptibly across the grid or painstakingly uncoil through unusual parametric shifts; rhythmic patterns are dequantised and ruptured in the subtlest ways. To listen to Cruise Forever is to listen to a mind exploring, with no little flair and originality, the implications of a few basic propositions—many of them culled from the dance floor. Cesear is quite a find, and his future movements ought to be watched with interest.