- Techno, electro, trap, hip-hop and more from Detroit.
- Rob Mansel is a Detroit artist with an irreverent way of paying homage to his home city's musical legacy. His short discography is remarkably diverse, balancing ideas from hip-hop, house and techno, while also drawing from dance music outside the Midwest. He chalks up his approach to growing up in the era of message boards with access to every kind of music. He plays in bands, has worked with rappers and DJ'd for M.I.A. Now he's attracting wider attention with his DIY takes on Detroit dance music on up-and-coming labels like Vanity Press and Portage Garage. His debut album, Illusions, also on Vanity Press, continues in this vein.
There's a strong musicality to Mansel's work. The guitar and piano samples on "Wake Up" brighten an otherwise simple house track. "Sunrize" is another highlight, with crystalline plucked strings, wistful saxophone riffs and a humming Wurlitzer organ, both played by Ji Hoon.
But Illusions has more to offer than sunny-afternoon house. "B LVDE III," co-produced by NOLIFE, is a noisy trap instrumental. Mansel nods to his love for grime on "Jump Off A Building." "Oizo" draws from the glitchy sound of the French producer it's named after.
The LP covers a lot of moods and styles, which is likely down to Mansel's confident approach to production. The album spans house, electro, trap and techno, pulling off each style convincingly. Illusions ends with two of his loveliest tracks yet. Brassy synths bleat over the futuristic glide of "Xchange," while "Nite Drive"'s throaty piano and electric organs give it a jazzy air. Both have a subtle Detroit feel, but, as on the rest of Illusions, Mansel adds his own style to a decades-old lineage.
01. Wake Up
03. Jump Off A Building
05. Under Interlude
07. B LVDE III
10. Nite Drive