Frankfurt's Monoloc has clearly spent the last ten years listening to all the right records. Drift pulls in influences running from Anthony Rother's punkish electro to Dettmann's greyscale grind, its tracks shrouded in a thick fug of dubby, Pole-ish crackle. When Monoloc reaches further back for inspiration, mainly on the vocal tracks indebted to MTV-era Depeche Mode, it is in a bid to create —with singer Daniel Wilde—the sort of solemn synthetic pop that never gets old. Initially, it all sounds pretty convincing, too. Opening track "Mind," all doom-laden portent and jangling treated piano, glowers with a cinematic intensity. Generously perhaps, you could argue that the next track, "Try," takes dub techno back to its reggae roots, charting a path between Andy Stott's funereal loops and Massive Attack's claustrophobic urban blues. Yet, the more you listen, the more Drift sounds oddly tame.
There are a few reasons for this. In the late '90s, when big electronic acts wanted (ill-advisedly) to crossover, they made albums that complied with rock music's definition of the format. There is a similar cultural cringe going on here. The nine tracks divide into three vocal tracks, three mid-paced or ambient mood pieces and three bangers. As if Drift has been self-consciously designed for home listening. At a time when, elsewhere, techno is being used as a limitless creative platform—one vibrant with avant-garde ideas, noise, raw soul—it feels formulaic.
It is compounded by both the production (oddly glossy, everything flattened out), and also by some rather meek creative decisions. With the exception of closing track "It's a Shame," the vocal tracks are pretty wan and one-dimensional. They are not great songs. Likewise, after everyone from Gloworm to Moodymann has explored the use of gospel vocals in dance music over the last 30 years, you need to do something fresher than the hackneyed "Pblc." Ultimately, Drift sounds too much like a self-conscious attempt to render techno in an album format, falling short on its attempt to create something with an appeal beyond the genre's fanbase.
Tracklist: Monoloc - Drift01. Mind
03. Monoloc & Daniel Wilde - It's Mine
05. Monoloc & Daniel Wilde - When I Get Older
08. No Outro
09. Monobloc & Daniel Wilde - It's a Shame
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