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Blondes: Swisher (RVNG Intl)

Blondes’ Swisher has been available online for over a month, but the physical album comes out this week. As far as techno full-length releases go, Swisher is top-notch. The album’s tracks were created as live improvisations between the members, and the result is a handsome blend of sophisticated listening and the ability move both the dancefloor and the mind. It’s really satisfying to hear an album of techno that brims with mood without feeling sentimental or cloying. It is this oblique moodiness that sets it apart from the sweeter, sadder sounds of the Dial camp (Lawrence, Pantha Du Prince) and instead resides somewhere in a grey area between dancing and pondering. (That is a good thing, mind you.) “Clasp” is a good example of a track that works best on a more emotive level but still has momentum and physicality; “Wire” pushes further out into abstraction, where its gloomy shadow seems to take precedence. However, the biggest successes here work equally well on the floor and off, such as the stunning upbeat track “Andrew” or the more languid jam that follows it, “Poland.” Most tracks feel full-bodied without being cluttered; there are plenty of effects running wild while Blondes craft some nice melodies and infectious basslines to keep things moving. “Elise” is the most catchy of all, with a jubilant melodic refrain over swishy tech house underpinnings, ending the album on an upbeat note with a dash of optimism. I consider Swisher one of the most solid techno albums I’ve heard in some time, surely a contender among the best of the year.

Buy it: RVNG Intl | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon