Travis Stewart, Tstewart, Neon Black, Syndrone, JETS, Sepalcure, Dream Continuum, Machinedrum. You’ll know him by one (or more) of these, but the veteran – in whichever shape or form – consistently brings it to the electronosphere.
Recently signed to Ninja Tune, the Berlin-based auteur brought out his last full-length as Machinedrum, ‘Room(s)’ (Clash review), back in 2011 on Planet Mu. Now he’s dreamt up a concept album, based around a recurring dream of his about a city – ‘Vapor City’ – with each track a different district that he lets us roam freely around.
‘Gunshotta’ opens the album – a breath-taking call to arms that showcases the jungle-juke sound that Travis has been rooting out for a while now. With vocal samples ranging from the ragga to the melancholic, the earth-quaking bassline that underlines it is impossible to writhe free from. An incredible start, here he cements his title as one of the most versatile and heavy-hitting producers in the game right now.
Yet despite this, like a great deal of Machinedrum’s output, the devil is in the detail. While ‘Gunshotta’ and ‘Eyesdontlie’ come packaged as straight-up bangers, it seems like there should be some middle ground between these and the more atmospheric tracks like ‘Vizion’ that require a couple more plays to hook you in.
There’s no denying the worth of the latter sort, but the electrifying nature of the first cut comes as a bit of a tease, setting you up for a (albeit nicely ambient) fall.
Words: Felicity Martin
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Stream tracks by Machinedrum via Deezer, below…