There was a time when electronic music was concerned with being “futuristic.” Album covers would contain amorphous blobs designed with “cutting edge” computer software, while the music, itself, would be eccentric, synth-based and, at times, a little menacing. Those days have passed, I’m afraid, and because of more “human” sounding electro-types like Manitoba, Boards of Canada, Daedelus and DNTEL, electronic musicians have begun to separate themselves from the technology. Let the samples do the talking, rather than the media from which they’re played. Minotaur Shock, a.k.a. David Edwards, has embraced this new philosophy, wholeheartedly. On his stateside debut, maritime, he doesn’t even bother to masquerade as a dance act. There are beats, even some synths, but deep down, it’s a warm, fuzzy pop record.
In the past, Minotaur Shock had been slapped the “folktronica” tag, though that hardly applies here. “Eclectronica,” a once-ubiquitous, now all-but-forgotten description actually seems more appropriate for the creative young producer. In an unforgettable opening hat trick, the man shifts from an intro of clarinets and hip-hop beats (“Muesli”) to a Beta Band-like downtempo pop tune (“(She’s in) Drydock Now”) to an M83-minded adrenaline rush (“Vigo Bay”). Edwards’ mind and styles seem to be wandering all over the map on this one, his internal compass leading the way through a stormy sea of samples.
Minotaur Shock even crosses over into IDM, on occasion, like the µ-Ziq-ish “Hilly.” But much like Mike Paradinas, Edwards lets his playful side guide the way through the glitchy beats, creating a warm and fuzzy sort of haywire. Meanwhile, “Twosley” is bouncy and jazzy, retaining a very minimalist sound instead of a more bombastic and heavy presence. The song does build up into louder drum breaks and violin samples, but never really explodes like you might be expecting it to. And “Somebody Once Told Me It Existed but They Never Found It” trudges along on a folk-meets-Kraftwerk rhythm.
There doesn’t seem to be any thread that holds these songs together, other than that they’re instrumental electronic compositions that go down easy. It’s a thoroughly accessible album with plenty of highlights, even if it does play it a bit too safe at times. But that one gripe is a minor one, and lack of experimentation aside, it’s a fine listen from an up-and-coming producer in the field.
µ-Ziq – Lunatic Harness
Four Tet – Rounds
Wagon Christ – Tally Ho!
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.