Coming into 2014 (even though the album came out late 2013), it is becoming increasingly apparent that good, solid techno is becoming archaic. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but the days of legends like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher are gone, and it seems that big room house is filling the void that they’ve left. On the forefront of the resistance lies Travis Stewart, who, under the moniker Machinedrum, is leading the charge with music as a weapon of art. Vapor City takes a look into the emotion that lies behind industry and machines, as symbolized by the black and white cover art depicting a rugged, industrial city. The footwork infused bass can be heard all throughout the album, with a clear schism between the first and second half of the LP. “Infinite Us” features wistful piano slurs matched up perfectly with the active bassline, one that gets increasingly more active as the song goes on, molding the theme of discovery. The vast emptiness of “Vizion” marks the second half of the album, the rhythmic white noise leading perfectly into “Rise N Fall”, personifying the album in one word: acceptance.
In his first LP since the exceptional Room(s), the sound of Machinedrum is beginning to sound fluent in itself, as the niche he is building for himself in the vast membrane of the techno landscape is becoming more defined with every release. The simplistic emotion behind the idyllic industrial city is brought into light, and with it, the brilliant ethos of Stewart is found.
Machinedrum’s ‘Vapor City’ is out now on Ninja Tune!