Daniel Gardner is one of the best producers working in the grey area between minimal techno and house. As Frivolous he’s quietly released three full-length albums and numerous singles, and yet he seems a bit of an unsung hero as far as this sort of music goes. He has an edge as a producer that is both clever and weird, which perhaps puts his tracks on the outer margins of what’s “cool” or “in,” which is a pity; from start to finish, Metereology is no exception in its precision and quality control. Gardner herein loses some of the pastiche of his sophomore album and instead returns to the oddly cool, quirky tech house of his debut album (Somewhere in the Suburbs… on Karloff). Most of the tracks on the album are upbeat and dancefloor friendly, though I generally prefer the pleasure of hearing Gardner’s knack for detail on headphones. The juxtaposition of bouncy tech arrangements and gloomier atmospheres is a running contrast throughout much of Metereology, most notably on the strangely disconcerting “Cryin’”, featuring a mumbled, moaning vocal from Gardner. What’s most satisfying to me about the album as a whole is Gardner’s confidence to combine very different sounds and styles together within what is from overhead a fairly straightforward tech house framework. He nails it on “Back Into The Deep,” which combines eerie plucked leads, house arrangements and manipulated vocals, one of my favorite cuts. There’s not a bad track on here in my opinion, with plenty of variety, including the a capella interlude “Rising…” or the more off-kilter drowsy vocal cut “Lunar Phaser.” Elsewhere on “Ostalgia” or “Sérénade des Excentriques,” he flexes his prowess as a studio tinkerer with surprisingly complex arrangements down the finest of details. Closing track “Wasting Time” recalls the heyday of Matthew Herbert at his best as a house producer, a nice and simple denouement to what’s sure to be one of my favorite albums of 2011.
28 May 2011