RocketNumberNine, MeYouWeYou

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 08.06.13 in Reviews

Somewhere between Four Tet and Lightning Bolt lies RocketNumberNine, which consists of London brothers Tom and Ben Page. Like Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden, who released their single “Matthew & Toby” on his own Text Records label in 2010, they come at genre from oblique angles, piecing together a loose approximation of dance music out of misshapen scraps of funk. Like Lightning Bolt, they manage it all with just four hands, with Tom Page’s live percussion providing the rhythmic muscle and Ben Page’s synthesizers taking care of all the rest. And “live” is the operative word here: Rather than editing and overdubbing, they roll out their lumpen shapes in real time, lending a rough-around-the-edges quality that’s rare for the kind of corkscrewing, groove-focused electronic music that they emulate.

Piecing together a loose approximation of dance music out of misshapen scraps of funk

The re-recorded “Matthew and Toby” pays tribute to the stabbing keys of classic rave tracks, and “Rotunda” is a throbbing take on the Caribbean-influenced house subgenre known as UK funky, but RocketNumberNine don’t limit themselves to genre studies. “Deadly Buzz” interpolates tough, metallic techno with the soaring affect of Apparat or Radiohead while still finding room to sneak in ambiguously Eastern tonalities; “Lone Raver” explodes breakbeat hardcore into a screaming maelstrom of progressive metal.

They make the most of the limitations they’ve set for themselves, too. MeYouWeYou never sounds as prosaic as a drummer and a synth player sitting down to jam; tuned drums do as much melodic work as the keyboards, while foaming, distorted synths take on the heft of electric bass and Marshall-stacked guitars, spilling out of the speakers in great waves of feedback. It’s not just that RocketNumberNine are so deep in the pocket; what gives their album its visceral thrill are the sumptuous textures they find there.