- On social media, Andrew Field-Pickering, the man behind Maxmillion Dunbar (or Max D, as he's generally known), is as liable to rep for a new dance track as he is to praise Autechre and former Miles Davis drummer Tony Williams. As he told RA last year, "I think a lot of people are getting into that zone where they're really trying to stretch out what it means to be [part of] underground electronic music." Field-Pickering is foremost among those people.
So it's no surprise that on Boost, the Washington, D.C. producer's third album (and the first on his label, Future Times), there's nothing resembling a club banger. He warned as much: "I'm not trying to construct any bangers…The new album is definitely stretched all the way out." Instead, we get tricky rhythmic exercises, bubbles blown inside of bubbles and detours full of U-turns. Opener "Bubblegum" plays with handclaps, finger snaps, closed hi-hats, tubular bells and copious guitar reverb. Across four minutes, it's as spare and snappy as negative space can get this side of Ricardo Villalobos's Thé Au Harem D'Archimède.
The fluttering frequencies that introduce "Rhythm Automator +" soon get leveled by a buzzing beat, its gruff arrhythmia reminiscent of Autechre. But no matter the heaviness, there's always something inherently buoyant in Max D tracks. Between the beats, bioluminescent blobs of electronics bounce around the stereo field. "Wave & Particle" might best illustrate Field-Pickering's approach to making beat tracks that double as ambient drifts. This one imagines what Herbie Hancock might have contributed to Future Times' most recent comp, Vibe 3.
"MJAX" is twice as dense as anything else here, with pan-pipe trills and thudding rhythms that sound over-caffeinated. The vocoder sighs halfway through don't move the track forward so much as make it even more antsy. When Field-Pickering leans toward the ambient spectrum, his hands still fidget and fuss over the space. "A Billion Drops In Space" is suspended by echoing piano chords, but the drums and cymbals are triggered only to be erased, never coalescing into a break, leaving the heightened tension unresolved. It doesn't always work, but the tracks have an exploratory quality to them. Rather than a record for 3 AM at the club, Boost reps for that other 3 AM zone, when you're zoning out in the dark, smoky space of your living room.
03. A Billion Drops In Space
04. Inspo (Ambient Mix)
05. Rhythm Automator +
07. Wave & Particle