DRM is, in its delicious way, a bit of a head-wrecker. At its most hectic, it's like being subjected to one of beat icon Neal Cassady's speed-addled monologues. When it gets dreamy, it's like coming round on a beach in Ibiza, your brain a frazzled fractal.
If that makes it sound like hard work, it isn't. It's rich with melody. Plus, for anyone who lived through the birth, rise and brilliantly messy demise of minimal techno, much of this collaboration between Visionquest's Ryan Crosson and Cadenza's Cesare Merveille will bring on a Proustian rush of nostalgia. Specifically, this fidgety, fizzing nexus of jazz, world music and techno influences harks back to that period, circa 2007, when minimal had transformed itself from music of grid-mapped pulses into a cavalier charge against prescribed rhythmic, tonal and melodic logic.
Like an improvisational jazz trio warming up, the opening salvos of DRM sound like a band setting the scene, finding their groove. "Pending," featuring pianists Kate Simko and Arthur Simonini, is lovely (think: Nicolas Jaar channelling Keith Jarrett). With its splashy kick, bustling bass and No Regular Play's Greg Paulus's trumpet resampled into swarms of brass, "Again & Again" ups the tempo, but it is the following run of five tracks where these components coalesce into something special.
Fans of dense, exotic polyrhythmic percussion will love "No Hassle" and "DRM." Rhythmically, they sound like marching insect armies. If the former, all whispered and/or frenetic bursts of be-bop sax and keys, is an enigmatic mood piece, last year's lead single "DRM" is a striking display of snaking dance floor insidiousness and aching melancholy. The reverb drenched xylophone melodies that tumble through it, almost aimlessly, are morbidly haunting.
"At the Seams," featuring Banana Lazuli's husky, doleful voice, takes this jazz-tronica interplay in a different direction, its bleak atmosphere akin to The Knife. All glittering showers of bells, "Orca" is deceptive, a functional tool seemingly purpose built for open-air summer parties, which, like an engine seizing-up, suddenly backfires and busts apart. Its sharp descent into heavily-treated Afrobeat territory ups the funk exponentially. With its dislocated drums, revolving hang chimes and—curiously—bursts of compressed Shaft-esque funk guitar, "Escale" is a kind of ambient balm after all that potential head-scratching. Albeit one that is itself concocted from strange ingredients. But that's DRM for you—a timely reminder that in house and techno there is much more to life than simply straight 4/4.