Sunday, July 14, 2013

Walton - Beyond

Genres are words invented to make sense of endless sound. You can't hear all the tunes, but maybe you can hear all the tunes in this genre or that scene, can follow one or two dozen artists religiously. Listen to one or two of the new Planet Mu footwork LPs, get a feel for the sound, and move on to the next thing. Music's an industry, and the goal of that industry is to make the product easy to consume. Therefore, a proliferation of tiny little boxes to sort new tunes into.

The first thing to note about Walton's new album is that it fits into a lot of these little boxes, but never for long at a time. Track 1 is Detroit techno, complete with a processed scifi vocal ("a song for yesterday, today, tomorrow, and beyond") and huge, echoing synths. Track 2 is house: piano, diva vox, hand drums, you know the drill. Then track 3 squeezes in a 303 and becomes acid house; track 4 pulls together rippling wonky arps and footwork drum programming. When track 12 rolls in with the same title as a canonical 2step track and obvious influence from that genre,'s exactly what you've come to expect. The LP is like a sampler plate of underground dance music sounds.

They're pretty good as they go, excepting the mediocre Burial pastiche of the closer ("City of God") which overstays its welcome even at 1:22. If anything, the trouble is that they're too good. "Grit" doesn't sound like Walton pulling a bit of influence from Blawan, it sounds just like Blawan. A little warmer, maybe. And while there's something to be said for doing tribute to old influences, it's a bit of a let down from a producer who's spent the last few years dropping EPs that are nearly impossible to pin down.

To go back to the first track's vocal, presumably the source of the album's title: "a song for yesterday, today, tomorrow, and beyond." There's a lot of yesterday and a lot of today, but there's not any beyond.

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