Dublee - Pseudo Harmonia

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  • Back in the late nineties, dub-infused electronica was the sound. It was everywhere, and then suddenly it disappeared, at least off the hipster radar, as electro swept in to replace grey smudges with neon bleeps and neo-trance. Dublee's Yusuke Sakurai ignores these 'progressions': his 2005 LP debut 'Echo Euphoria' invokes comparisons with prime Force Inc. et al, and his latest is equally nostalgic. I always thought dub techno's fall from prominence was premature, that it had yet to run its course, and while Dublee's arguments are welcome, they're not always convincing. 'Pseudo Harmonia' expands upon the clicks and crackle of his earlier efforts with louder drums and more intricate programming – it’s not a huge leap forward, but in today's glutted market where everything is old hat, it’s kind of refreshing. Fortunately Dublee manages to carve a niche for himself while referencing earlier recordings. Inside the slack 4/4 pulse, the glitches, the hiss and delay - all of which could be sourced from any Scape artist – lie patches, patterns and spacing that belong only to him. Most noticeable is his line in melody, not something usually discussed in relation to dance music, but it’s relevant here: 'Tilt' offsets typically metallic percussion with glowing keyboard lines; 'Route' and 'Cliff' offer similar contrasts to jets of steam, the former drenching them in reverb and tinny melodies, the latter letting them loose in a pachinko parlour. Throughout it's a meeting of Monolake austerity and Modernist bop where even the basslines have personality. This all gets a bit samey, but Dublee manages a few detours. Opener 'Backyard' lopes around at reggae tempo, it's offbeat pulse, scrapes and echo the closest nod on the album to Jamaica by way of Berlin. Sweetbutter's mix of 'Touch' adds jazz-house noodlings to the usual dour base, while the misplaced meows of a robotic feline clutter the messy 'Bounce'. But 'Scar' and 'A Half Decades' (sic) both hit the mark: Maurizio shudder and Fehlmann squelch support harder-than-usual drums. Elsewhere Fehlmann's own mix of 'Cliff', while not his best piece, reminds us just how good music of this sort can be.