Swayzak, Some Other Country

David Stubbs

By David Stubbs

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

James Taylor and David Brown, aka Swayzak, have been fixtures in the tech-house scene since their debut single, “Bueno/Fukumachi,” in 1997. Ten years on, their fifth album release, Some Other Country, reflects not just the maturity and evolution of 21st-century techno but also the long shadows it casts on its own past. Micro-beats, rhythms reduced to a scrunch of quarks underpin Some Other Country, but it's overarched with lush, meteor showers of synth, reminders of the more opulent '90s.

Tech-house fixtures split the difference between evolution and nostalgia.

There's a sense of deep, melancholic space about the album, with DJ Cassy's creamy, high-register funk vocals on opener “Quiet Life” setting the tone. On “Distress and Calling,” sequencer-diced voices wheel helpless and disembodied around the mix, hitting an ancient storm of Acid squiggles. “Silent Luv,” meanwhile, intensifies with the participation of Italian group Les Fauves, introducing a note of '80s pop portentousness. “They Return” is built around a treated sample of what could be some '50s sci-fi TV series, culminating in the salvage of a rusty, Meccano chunk of Orbital from orbit, but it's on the deceptively straightforward instrumental “Pukka Bumbles” that Swayzak are at their most unaffected, composed and uplifting.