- After putting it all on the table on Glass Eights, his peerless 2010 full-length, John Roberts more or less stopped releasing music: besides a handful of remixes, the last few years have been bereft of his painstakingly arranged and devastatingly gorgeous compositions. Though he was sorely missed, his absence may ultimately have been for the best: the hype surrounding the New Yorker-turned-Berliner truly distracted from the fact that he was as good as everyone said he was. Now that the bubble hasn't so much burst as deflated with grace, Roberts can get back to making beautiful music. And that's precisely what we get with the low-key Paper Frames, a simultaneous distillation and reinvention of Roberts' rich atmospherics that might not have been possible immediately after Glass Eights.
With "Untitled II," the EP opens as if Roberts has just awoken from an impossibly long sleep: its tumbling pitched drums can hardly carry a rhythm, and woozily intertwined cello and piano have to seemingly pull themselves out of dissonance. The title cut finds Roberts once again on even-footing, but "Paper Frames"'s music-box stomp—more Mount Kimbie than modern house—feels worlds removed from the straightforwardly danceable vein he's known for. After sifting through strange chords on an old piano on "Untitled IV," Roberts slips into a 4/4 beat on "Crushing Shells," but thump aside, there's very little party to be found in its woody drone and twinkling high-end. Paper Frames doesn't sound like the John Roberts you remember so much as feel like that music did. It's a shiver you'll be happy to have running down your spine again.
A1 Untitled II
A2 Paper Frames
A3 Untitled IV
A4 Crushing Shells