Past releases from Detroit native Manuel Gonzales have been peppered with the sort of dance floor workouts that, while variously warped and slathered with tape hiss, reflected an intimate familiarity with his hometown's heroes—Jeff Mills, Drexciya, Terrence Dixon. But Gonzales' releases over the past 18 months, for the likes of Don't Be Afraid and The Trilogy Tapes, have been equally defined by their idiosyncratic moments: kosmische-style drone, broken-beatbox meanderings and, in one case, a sticky Jefferson Airplane edit.
Some Tracks, for London label Third Ear, might be an effort on Gonzales's part to iron out these sonic crinkles. All of the tracks are DJ-friendly to a degree, though they retain a pleasing deviant streak. The results are as compelling and imaginative as anything Gonzales has released. "Extort"'s Mills-style bleeps play out over a stodgy groove, more oppressive than hypnotic. Electro roller "Fiber" is sleeker, but there's a haphazard quality to its central synths as they blossom periodically with delay. Gonzales's taste for grubby futurism finds an outlet in "Mean While," whose cosmic ambitions are almost buried beneath squalid hi-hats and the dull roar of surface noise. The melancholic "Mark" is the most streamlined of the lot—and the best—showcasing Gonzales's ability to wring a widescreen majesty from his dollar store materials. Of course, our man can't resist showing off his wayward tendencies: closer "Taft" is a rework of "Fiber," pitched up until it takes on a garbled quality, and brought to an abrupt close just as it hits its stride.
A2 Mean While