MNLTH: Flektro (Central Processing Unit)
MNLTH (a.k.a. Monolith) recently released this five-track collection of quality braindance tracks that are some of the best to surface on the CPU label in some time. CPU has gradually become a label that I consider to be most reliable when it comes to electronic dance music that throws back to other eras, namely early 80s electro, 90s Rephlex braindance and IDM. It should come as no surprise, then, that David Bernard got his start on that very label, releasing his debut EP and album in 2009 and 2011 respectively. It’s a coup for CPU, as this is probably my favorite release I’ve heard on the label so far. These tracks share the same quality I find on much of the CPU catalogue, a sort of immediate nostalgia for old school electro and arcade sounds, but with a slickness and deftness that propels his tracks into the same league as heavyweights like Richard D. James. However, while Aphex Twin tends to veer headlong into complex beatmaking and frenetic acid, the tracks on Flektro are more straightforward, less frantic, and they go down more smoothly as a result.
The stabby bass and chilly electro cool of the title cut immediately reminds me of DMX Krew’s darker rhythmic moments, starting the album off with a poker face that’s matched by the woozy chill of “No More Snow Time.” But there are more fun moments; my favorite of these is “Traffic,” because it splits the difference between vintage electro and italo-disco in the best of ways. I like that he’s willing to throw down a 4/4 kick just when a track is starting to feel a bit static or played out — his sense of pacing and arc here is on point. Its faster clip and steady sequencing patterns recall Gerald Donald’s best material as Der Zyklus or Japanese Telecom, a nice one-two punch with closer “Gemswon” which also has a punchy tempo and breakbeat underpinning it. Certainly the sounds of Flektro are not necessarily anything new, but lest this be considered damning praise, it really is a tightly executed, slick set of tracks. Highly recommended for fans of melodic, dancefloor-compatible electro with an ear for details.