The first album of a trilogy, Sinister Mind "reflects more the dark tendencies and tones of my sound," as Houle puts it. Though his debut album, 2004's Restore, was a textbook example of that era's minimal techno, he was draping those bare beats in portentous guitar and gothic overtones on 2010's Drift. Houle returns to that sound on his latest album. If the range of moods is narrower, so too is the music. Gone is the fizz and fun of recent albums and some of his 12-inches (though that might come as a relief to those left cold by the wackier tendencies of tracks like "Techno Vocals").
Most tracks on Sinister Mind are geared firmly towards the dance floor. "Maskatron" begins with the doom-laden guitar familiar from Drift before warping into a grind of goth-shaded techno. "Loafer"'s percolating synth bleeps bleed into a four-note acid loop. "Dark Tom" is a lumbering, drum-heavy warehouse stomp, and "Conbular" is a flinty piece of minimal that recalls Houle's older tracks.
Sinister Mind might be Houle's most consistent album, but that comes at a cost. Apart from "Bassorrific"'s funky slap bass and the melodic denouement of "Paligama," the album is pretty uniform and can feel slightly wearying as a whole—less dark and mysterious and more like someone in a bit of a sulk. If Houle can lighten up for the remainder of the trilogy, his best qualities may yet shine.