[CD Review] Syclops, 'I've Got My Eye on You' (DFA)

Whether you believe (or care) that Maurice Fulton, a house producer known more for his techno-tinged outré-disco than the whoop-whoop of the genre, actually hooked up with three Finnish dudes to record this album of shape-shifting techno-jazz (as in, not techno-y or jazz-y, but somehow as improvisational and propulsive) pretty much doesn't matter. Electronic music can be inspiringly imaginative, but its subgenres can get pretty clique-y, which is why Carl Craig plays with different tempos and styles under as many monikers, and techno stalwart "Mad" Mike Banks' best track is actually a strip-bar electro jam called "X Squared" recorded under his Electric Soul moniker. But no matter who authored these tracks, it's a compliment to Fulton, the Finns, whomever, that they sound like the work of four people and, more important, that they sound this good. When the soul-clap drums come in on the burpin' ugly synth-bass of "Mom the Video Broke," it feels like a house track that jacks your body. Then there are the jaunty rim-shot drums and piano of "Naoka's F," striding along with its standup bass before the whole thing gets Calgon-take-me-away'd by bubble-bath synths—outta nowhere, but perfectly so. Older singles such as "Where's Jason's K" sound more conventionally four-on-the-floor, if only because the freaked frequency of "The Fly" and its batshit synth squiggles are so purely acid house with a live drummer pounding the beat beneath it—the best of techno and jazz. "Nelson's Back" may sound like a P-Funk soundcheck for five minutes, but when the William Orbit mirror-shaded synths come in only to austerely bow out to real pianos, you realize Syclops' real talent is not succumbing to the myopia of repetition, managing to gel just as much as it weaves.

 
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