We like this new, more aggressive, intimidating version of Maceo Plex, but what on earth happened to the Balearic touch and truck load of groove that made ‘Life Index’ such a great listen? You don’t like to look too much into the blurb stating the album “chronicles his newfound fatherhood; the ups and downs in the first few years and its effects on life, marriage and more.” But there’s no denying that ‘Solar’ finds Plex, AKA Erik Estornel, amidst an electro sect howling at the dark side of the moon.
The last track from ‘Life Index’, spiritual coup de grace ‘Bring It Back’, becomes a distant memory once the grinding opener ‘Sparks of Life’ has laid down a marker, a spiteful dig down low. It isn’t long before the textbook writhing, chemically induced chanteuse answers Plex’s call on ‘Polygon Pulse’, and already the situation is critical as an alt-pop behemoth, synth lines shooting into the blackness for as far as the ear can hear. Brooding jet engine bottom ends with a post-dubstep chassis (‘Indigo’), represent the album’s soul motions making you sit up straight, and speaking up for man controlling machine despite the contrary, paranoia-primed environment.
Laid out as a classic chrome maze, Plex picks a journey that’s a health and safety nightmare. Beats suddenly spit at you, help you to your feet, such as on ‘Kepler’s Journey’, give chase through the night on ‘The Tesseract’, before you’re faced with absolution on ‘Lucid Dreamer’, another swell of epic synth majesty and irresistible glow. The album reaches emotional zeniths of excellence on downtempo mirage ‘The Seperation’. Like Arnie trying to relax in a bid to achieve total recall, the longing greyscale insists gloom will last a futuristic lifetime. Balearic bliss now a long way from home, ‘Solar Wind’ is a beautifully balanced electro ballad on life support, widescreen synths sweeping in from the cold to invert and expose the pleasure principle until it achieves celestial status.
A foreboding listen, but fortune will favour those visiting Plex’s astral plain. The next phase in his personal life can’t come quick enough, either.
Words: Matt Oliver
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