Akufen: My Way

Advances in the electronic realm known as microhouse are minuscule by nature, but the past few months have been loaded with albums that convert the genre's finicky obsessions to grandiose aural statements. The most immediately noteworthy, Akufen's My Way, pairs hyper-precise microhouse beats to a songy sample method that gives laptop production conceits an unprecedented melodic rub. A one-man act from Montreal, Akufen processes samples gathered from daily radio trolling into a gooey sonic slurp, ranging rhythmically from slow-eyed dub to hard-driving house. On "Skidoos," he gooses the album's early mellow pitch with a distant, longing soundscape draped over a four-four dance beat that cycles and loops like an operating-room breathing machine. But on the fourth track, "Deck The House," My Way starts charting its own territory, by way of countless half-second samples woven into a delirious crisscross of floaty phonemes and emotive hiccups. Everything from the mosaic processing to the epileptic push-push bassline bears the influence of Todd Edwards, a criminally unheralded New Jersey producer who laid the groundwork for England's glossy two-step garage scene. Making good on a challenge passed up by other producers rightly intimidated by Edwards' singular genius, Akufen proves a worthy successor on "Wet Floors," "Heaven Can Wait," and "Jeep Sex"—all of which measure in as dance tracks too mystifying to inspire much more than slack-jawed awe. More straightforward but no less impressive, MRI's All That Glitters buffs the microhouse template to a blinding luster. On tracks like "Deep Down South" and the quasi-disco anthem "Tied To The '80s," the German duo meditates on the eerie elision between bass kicks and hi-hat snaps, giving the inner workings of the elemental dance rhythm an impeccable detail job. MRI shows its range with the mournful glitch-pop of "Sane And Sound" and the dirty techno swagger of "Amethyst Pop Stars," but the miniaturized trance moments ("Data Boogie," "Nightclubbing At Home") trade best on microhouse's ability to turn headphones into super-clubs while rewarding fleet-footed fantasies and sedentary fixation in equal measures.

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