Outside club forays, Stewart tends to hang his productions on obscure references such as names of philosophers, diseases and personal events in his life, and Metanarrative is no exception. The last track, ‘Beautiful Death’ is even a paean on the death of his grandmother. Like Neurofibro, the entire album has an odd atmosphere of disease/atrophy that makes it a fairly melancholy affair.
Metanarrative can be divided neatly into two halves so distinct they could be separate mini-albums. The first four tracks are melodic, warm and driven by heavy beats that dip into the electro-techno crossover Stewart’s known for—all wistful chord progressions and padded bass. Of these tracks, ‘Harsh Reality’ is good, while the others are just average.
The second half seems like the real album. ‘Gone to the Dogs’ immediately sets a different tone, swelling around a deep, dubby low end that Modern Love has really pushed over the last year. ‘Nodrex’ carries quick percussive triplets over deep, swelling bass and blue chord washes, while ‘Dependant’ also pulses with low-end propulsiveness and gaseous hisses that are so present in the label’s sound—it’s the standout track of the second half, and as such has already had a limited, single side release on vinyl.
Metanarrative arcs through Stewart’s past accomplishments, distilling bits and pieces into a short collection. At forty minutes, it’s certainly concise, and after the wheat and chaff part ways, what you’re left with is rather spare for an album reportedly culled from over a hundred tracks.