- Asper Clouds was an assured debut album from Christopher Rau back in 2010. Idiosyncratic enough to stand him out from the crowd while also sounding immediately classic, it set him well on the way to being the deep house poster boy that he now is. In the ensuing years, EPs on Mule, Pampa and, most recently, Never Learnt have seen him stray ever further away from the norm, into a world of scattered percussive patterns and ever more tightly programmed analogue trickery. To some degree, the first half of Two suggests that's an avenue that may have run its course.
That's probably not a complaint you would make of similar tracks on an EP, but stacked on top of each other here, the cumulative effect can be grating, if not predictable. Sure, playing off-time notes does bring a great robo-funk to the streaming merry-go-round melodies of opener "Apple Snapple Tracking," and they certainly imbue "Swag Lue" with a mechanical heart amidst more dreamy and psychedelic melodic motifs, but by the dubbed out electro of "High" the trick has become tough to penetrate. As such, that famed Smallville intimacy makes way for a more mechanized jack.
The ping-ponging perc isn't terminal, though, because there are less kinetic tracks and deeper, more streamlined grooves aplenty in the second half of the album. "Weird Alps" is a particular highlight: it's an economical Omar-S style workout where one element—here a sad, arpeggiated horn—is allowed to roam free amongst sandy and uninterrupted deep house beats and a feathery, ever ticking hi-hat. The definition of simple yet effective, it sounds effortless amongst the overloaded percussive ticks that preceded it. So too "Girl," where a coarse clap opens and closes like those in Villalobos' Fizheur Ziheuer as magical fairground melodies flutter-by somewhere off in the distance. "Sound Shake" could have been culled from the Asper sessions given its smooth and foggy deepness.
There's a real world quality to the melodies and samples that litter Two. Even when the beats might be brash and the percussion prickly, the waify little details surreptitiously steal your mind and romance your heart with imagined nostalgia. It's hard to criticise an album that is still above most in its field but, as a product of his usual form, many might have expected more.
01. Apple Snapple Tracking
02. Swag Lude
03. Unlimited Dancemoves
05. Weird Alps
07. Sound Shake