Maxmillion Dunbar, House of Woo

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 02.19.13 in Reviews
Sleek, spacious electronic music

Maxmillion Dunbar, a DJ/producer from Washington, D.C., makes sleek, spacious electronic music pitched between the current vogues for the rhythmic action of vintage Chicago house and the heady contemplation of cosmic synthesizer jams. About half of House of Woo plays as certifiable dance music, with upright rhythms that assert themselves with force, while the other half has nary a beat to speak for. Representing the former, “Slave to the Vibe” opens with unbound ’80s keyboard sounds, patiently arrayed in floating fashion, that snap into a formalist grid when the beat kicks in a little more than two minutes in. The way the hi-hat hangs in what sounds like a sweaty expanse of the stratosphere evokes old Chicago house anthems by the likes of Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers, Fingers Inc.), but “Woo” pulls back, quiets down, and drifts into comparatively ambient territory. A few beats still clack and clang, but the background textures creep the fore, and a wandering, thinking-out-loud synth-riff establishes itself in a way that remains present in tracks like “Coins for the Canopy” and “The Figurine (Nod Mix).” The funky dancefloor-filler “Ice Cream Graffiti” goes big and beat-intensive again, but it’s never long before the sound spaces out and spreads in a manner befitting the title of “Loving the Drift.”