Picking up right where Paul left off, the oddly monikered A Slave's Commitment offers twelve gauzy, often melancholic slices of paleface electronica and dying-sun ambience that pull from noted Warp artists like Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada as much as dance-oriented producers like Ricardo Tobar, Fairmont or even Dominik Eulberg. After all, if pop and indie move to the year-long calendar, dance music orbits seem much shorter, with half-year evolutions that bear almost sea-change heft. Not to belabor the point, but when Traum states that Applescal's heroes are "not Richie Hawtin or Ricardo Villalobos but Nathan Fake and Extrawelt," it's not only an admission of likeness; it's an address of the swift trickle-down of dance music dynamics. One that allows for a welcome if unfashionable refueling to buoyant, heart-on-sleeve dance music (even if that dancing's solo in the bedroom).
Opener "The History of Love" twitches above puffs of sand-belt static and toy electronic sounds around its colorful tonal patterns, while with its center-outward momentum and chiming synthetic bell tones, standout "Ugly but Nasty" seems to drift through ripples of melody without being nudged off path. "How Heroes Die" is both phenomenal and completely absurd, an over-the-top anthem sewn from warbling tonal melodies intersecting like spring bee-buzz. Widescreen, day-trip stuff.
Elsewhere, "I Can't Stand" sounds slightly more stately—a bruised but still standing bit of kosmische-techno—and "The Forms of Abstract Life" flirts with sleepy IDM, drowsy, awaiting first cup. Though once its vocals pop up, the mesmerism fades, the remix of the Dutch group Local Daddys' "Sjeesh" begins like a perky inversion of a Superpitcher schaffel track, its greys and blacks gone blues and purples, its tenor sad but admitting to a change in the weather. Of course, ultimately, Applescal's debut ain't gonna rope in listeners not already keen on daydream labels like Traum and Border Community. But for the anthem pleaders and the emo-dance apologists, this is charming stuff.
Thu / 13 Aug 2009
01. The History of Love
02. Nottingham Hobbits
03. Ugly But Nasty
04. In the Mirror
05. Music for Her Ears
06. I Can't Stand (feat. Jord-n)
07. The Forms of Abstract Life
08. How Heroes Die
09. The Red Dress
10. Fink & FC
11. Local Daddys - Sjeesh Up (Applescal Remix)