One of the nicest things about Daniel Savio’s self-titled LP is its brevity: just 32 minutes. I’m aware this sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I mean it sincerely. There’s an economy of ideas on display here that allows the Swedish producer to explore a variety of moods and digital inflections without ever wearing out his welcome, from the analogue industrialism of first single “Revolt”– which was recorded using just a single synthesizer(!)– and dizzying damaged goods of “Inseminoid,” to the more austere lounge of “Let’s Split” and groovy shuffle of “Broken Homie (Cryin’ in the Rain).” None of the thirteen tracks here ever come across as rushed or incomplete, but neither do they feel overstuffed or pointless. Savio presents an idea, develops it for a little bit, then drops it and moves on.
His music is as playfully electronic as ever. Laser-like “pew pew!” noises and bleep-bloop tones color much of this album’s backdrop, perhaps nowhere more thoroughly than on “Fiesta Total,” which makes the strongest argument yet that skweee and chiptune are but two faces on the ever-spinning dice we call “electro.” But generally speaking, Savio toys with a broader palette of textures than 8-bit-indebted music usually entails. For instance, “Private Eyes” starts off as a deep yet hollow downtempo number before unexpectedly smearing its crunchy synths down to what must be close to their lowest musical register, imbuing the song with an almost sinister richness. Of course, those tones are then immediately contradicted by the high-pitched arpeggios of following track “Break Out”. These juxtapositions– of melodic keys and scrambled signals, stuttering beats with steady rhythms, carefree synth lines and haunting undertones– make Daniel Savio a consistently engaging listen.
The album’s finale and longest track, “Voice of the Voiceless,” is also the most intriguing. It offers a glimpse of what “Skweee tech house” might sound like: gurgling synths riding over a beat of bass drums and stuttering 808s. Impressively, it carries a memorable melody with just a few well-placed notes; like Savio’s work as a whole, “Voices of the Voiceless” goes to show that not only is less indeed more, but there’s a whole lot you can do with “less” anyway.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
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