Like more than a few of his peers on the house-bass continuum, Canadian producer Kevin McPhee has caught the techno bug. And the more stylistically mixed up his tracks get, the more excitingly original they become. His latest, a rare 12-inch for West Norwood Cassette Library's 10-inch-centric WNCL Recordings, isn't completely without precedent, but it leaves you with the sense he's onto something special.
McPhee makes a bit of a mess on In Circles. Regardless, his sound comes together wonderfully here. Having done away with easy melodies in favor of stomping drums and twisted vocal chops on the title cut, McPhee seems to have been studying Blawan's recent sides, though he arrives at the groove through his own organic sound palate. On "Do," the sonic touchstone is Hessle Audio a la Objekt's "Cactus," but McPhee's intricate dance around the sub-bass hook lends it an ambitiously exploratory bent that goes well beyond a homage. "Pumpkin" takes us back to functional, Blawan-esque techno, though its intriguingly sluggish hi-hats seem to be dragging the tune off the dance floor. The title of "The Blind Whirring of Machinery" basically nails it, with melodically ambiguous resonances ping-ponging through deceptively restrained drumming. But something tells me "blind whirring" is a coy description on McPhee's part, his beats sounding deeply—and at times brilliantly—considered.