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Metro Area: Metro Area


Metro Area

Album: Metro Area
Label: Environ

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Straight-and-narrow nostalgia may be an impediment to progress, but what happens when the past comes back as a better version of itself? That question is worth considering for musicians across the board, from rock to hip-hop, but it's been a top-of-mind priority in dance music, as everything from electro to fusion-jazz gets treated to technological and stylistic rewrites that trade roots for reach. Digging into the era invoked by Playgroup and numerous bands at the dancier end of the post-punk spectrum, Metro Area pays tribute to the early-'80s New York club sounds dreamt up between the tail end of disco and the full-on realization of hip-hop. Built around raw boom-bap drum patterns and ornaments like handclaps and shakers, the grooves on Metro Area swagger at a speed too slow for house but too fast for hip-hop, deftly resurrecting a time when funky desires congealed into a gooey center not yet sure-footed enough to step out along genre lines. "Intro" and "Dance Reaction" set a welcoming tone with warm, wet rhythms and way-back synth sounds, but before long, the album strikes a tone too forcefully good to write off as homage. "Square Pattern Aura" sets a juicy electric-piano figure in a bath of production touches—rubbery electro winks, death-disco sizzle—that never stops churning. "Machine Vibes" glides over an airy expanse of early-morning funk and gilded shaker shimmy. Impeccably rich producers, Metro Area helmsmen Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani match their high-fidelity sound fetishes with melodies that stake a claim to the highest mantle of instrumental songwriting. Restlessly shifting songs like "Atmosphrique" and "Soft Hoop" verge on proto-digital symphonies, running bump-worthy bass walks over spare synth riffs and triangle twinkles that do the work of a full band. Boasting a number of tracks that are fast becoming staples on DJ mix-discs, Metro Area never takes its eyes off the past, but its vision of perfect beats couldn't be clearer.