It's been pretty well established as to what you'll be getting when you open up a Tevo Howard 12-inch (or two, in this case). Howard doesn't really have much to offer in the way of a twist on his Chicago home's legendary sound. What Howard does better than anyone at the moment, though, is pare down the city's past into enormously effective dance floor material. You'd be hardpressed to say that you haven't heard elements of Howard's productions before elsewhere, but you'd be equally as challenged by offering up examples as tightly constructed and deeply considered.
Crystal Republic continues this trend with six tracks that once again prove that Howard has few contemporaries of note. The title track runs through seven minutes of moody pads and a melody and bassline that play beautifully against one another. "Laboratory" does the same, but to lesser effect, its bassline too powerful for the elements around it to escape. Horns build a ground from which "The Glass Ceiling" overhangs. Twinkling bells and Howard's ever-present drum machine, meanwhile, help to fill it out.
Over on the second vinyl, "Material"'s bassline is just as intrusive as "Laboratory," but the track is balanced nicely by the melodies that Howard employs around it. Like much of the material here, it builds to minor and subtle climaxes throughout, never boiling over, but never letting up either. "Data" in album format and long version finish things off in similar fashion to the rest, highlighting Howard's appeal in a nutshell: If you're into this sound palette, there's virtually no chance you won't find something to play here. If you hate it, Crystal Republic is an easy skip.
Buy Tevo Howard - Crystal Republic at
Tracklist: Tevo Howard - Crystal Republic A Crystal Republic
B2 The Glass Ceiling (Full Edit)
C2 Data (Album Edit)
D Data (Long Version)