ALBUM REVIEW: Naytronix – Dirty Glow

Naytronix Dirty Glow

Written for the 405

The shorelines of contemporary music have been battered by wave after wave of 80s revivals; we’ve weathered the storm of garage rock upstarts; there was that short-yet-frightening attempt to bring back Britpop (Viva Brother, RIP); recently, Spector have been trying to bring back the sort of glamorous indie rock ‘n’ roll that was gracing the pages of the NME nary six years ago. What I’ve been waiting for this whole time – and what Naytronix, aka Tune-Yards bassist Nate Brenner – is someone else who loves that mid-90s sweet spot where rave and House began to slip into something a little less comfortable, but a whole lot more interesting.

Yes, it’s the early, better albums by the likes of Moby, Fatboy Slim, Orbital and The Chemical Brothers that are evoked on Dirty Glow – ostensibly a concept album about a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but best to just ignore that – from its deployment of the amen break to its esoteric vocals/vocal samples, from its melodic trance keys to its samples of discordant jazz records. Big beat 2.0.

A sound collage not unlike the KLF’s iconic Chill Out (albeit one with a more cosmopolitan feel, and less snippets of Tuvan throat singing),Dirty Glow weaves a pleasingly nostalgic route through the ghosts of dance music past, territory unknown to Brenner’s bandmate Merrill Garbus, but no less vital. At some points he takes us even further back, to the places that influenced people like Tom Rowland and Ed Simons when they’d fully ransacked Detroit, with tracks like ‘Baby Don’t Walk Away’, a fun, disco/funk track that’s like something of Daft Punk’s Discovery were it not so encumbered with samples, there’s a tip of the hat to the present with post-James Murphy electroclash along with some Kraftwerkian vocals on ‘Robotic’, and then there’s ambient sax-lead ‘Elevator to Tomorrow’, which sounds like something Bernard Hermann left out of his Taxi Driverscore.

The thing is, with records which strive so much to recreate old sounds, to say they succeed is to say, “Yep, this sure does sound like a bunch of old stuff I like.” So, on that level, good job, Naytronix! On another, more general view: “Wait, this sounds like a bunch of old stuff I like, why don’t I just go and listen to that?”

Because it’s not what he plays, it’s how he plays ’em; weaving together these somewhat disparate, somewhat related genres by use of his “Cali Bootsy” funky bass, and making everything gel and flow together in a way that’s not dissimilar to Van Dyke Park’s Discover America; only, you can dance to it. Which is what really matters.

8/10

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