- CPU's 100th release is an impressive and sometimes goofy EP that highlights everything good about the Sheffield label.
- Sheffield's Central Processing Unit puts out a lot of records by a lot of artists—100 records in less than ten years, to be exact. It's a wide-ranging label with a number of bright personalities hidden behind those black-and-white sleeves, but if there's a star of the show, it's probably Cygnus. The Dallas producer gave the label its very first release, after all, instantly establishing its style of funky humanoid electro and dreamy IDM. But if there's one thing that's always been uniquely Cygnus, it's his sense of humour (and love for the vocoder) that sets him apart from his more austere CPU peers. Now he marks the label's 100th release with an alternately hilarious and impressive EP, which moves from early '80s New York to the 22nd century over the course of four tracks.
The obvious attraction here is the eponymous "CPU Records," whose funky slide-and-thwack is pure early electro worship, replete with tongue-in-cheek vocal: "CPU Records made a hundred wax / So much electro made across the map / CPU Records with a million songs / One robot singing on the intercom." It would be gimmicky if Cygnus didn't pull it off exactly right, and it's hard not to imagine this one going down a hoot in a room full of electro nerds (or in Cygnus's famously electro-loving hometown).
The spiky, almost EBM-influenced "Throwing Shade" has one of Cygnus's most intense vocal performances. He huffs, puffs and and funkily grunts at the end of his syllables, as he brags about his high scores on Space Invaders. It's at once completely ridiculous and totally convincing.
While these tracks are fun, the other two feature some of Cygnus's deepest and most intriguing work yet. The opening cut, "Bad RGB Controller," is, bar none, one of the best things he's ever produced, mixing brittle Drexciyan arpeggios with stirring synths and three-dimensional chord sweeps that add a spaciousness that feels all future, no retro. It's a beauty to behold, especially in headphones.
If you're looking for retro, then there's also "Float Back To The Surface," which sounds kind of like a shoegaze band covering Cybotron, all decaying synths and croaking vocals. Sure, you could pick out all the influences Cygnus is working with here pretty easily, but like Central Processing Unit itself, it's how he puts them together that matters. A CPU release is always more than the sum of its parts, and 100% Dope is exactly what the title promises, an exemplary record for the label. Equal parts humour, worship and futurism, it doesn't take itself too seriously but still sounds dead serious about it. Here's to 100 more.
01. Bad RGB Controller
02. CPU Records
03. Float Back To The Surface
04. Throwing Shade
05. England Club Deep (Bandcamp Exclusive)