Datassette is all the more impressive for the fact it's John's first album. He's worked up to it with home-pressed CDR EPs and a split EP with Plant 43 back in 2006, also on Ai. But for a first proper outing, it's no exaggeration to say the 27-year-old web designer has done extraordinarily well. A fair chunk of Datassette is a lopsided take on electronica with a robotic fun(k) element to it, built around jerky breaky/brokeny/electro beats with odd noises thrown in. It's the kind of music you could easily imagine machines on a car production line dancing to, especially given the effects include what sounds like a big metal ball sliding down a big metal slide and hitting a big metal wall ('Worms') or an 'urghh' that resembles a piston beatboxing ('Fallblattanzeige').
But then just when you think you know Datassette, he shows you this whole other side, or rather I should say sides. The most impressive thing about the album is that John takes on so many different styles and nails them all. There's an Andy Stott Datassette on 'Damage Report', a track which seems to sustain itself with the just the slightest of neon flicks, and a New Wave Datassette on 'Minus Fourteen', where he picks up the tempo and adds in a spine-tingling guitar melody. 'Remains' and 'Running Away' have a stunning trashscape appeal, the latter of which reeks of Orchestra of Bubbles in the way the synths and horns seem to ripple up and out of the track and give you an Oh-so-Ellen moment, only now it's Oh-so-John (Yes, I know, that doesn't sound half as good).
The album's two slower tracks, Pluck' and 'Melting Faces' are equally mesmerising. 'Pluck evolves like a spiders web of harp strings, whilst 'Melting Faces', the last track on the album, could be the closing credits from Blade Runner. John's only tribute to businessfunk comes in the form of 'Box' which rocks in a frenzied computer says 'ERROR!' kind of way. But don't worry, that's about as close as we get to oversized shoulder pads, bar charts and permed hair. The rest of Datassette explodes beyond such semi-ironic tomfoolery and instantly establishes Mr. Davis as a serious talent to watch.