New York producer Max McFerren hears the human voice differently than you do. You hear a sigh, he hears a melody; you a grunt, he a bassline. You hear a joke and… well, McFerren probably hears a joke too. He likes jokes. You discover discrepancies like these while listening to McFerren’s work as MCFERRDOG, a riot of samples held just in check by subby kick drums and stinging snares. Kin to techno pranksters like DJ Koze and Isolée, McFerren specializes in all the funny noises a mouth can make—or the synths that can fake them—though he never lets his fascination impede him from making surprisingly slamming dance tunes. McFerren makes funhouse music, pun intended: an amalgam of dance styles set apart by its goof and whimsy.
Lawd Forgive Me is McFerren’s second MCFERRDOG album (he has a handful 12″s under his own name as well), and it arrives—like last year’s excellent Club Amniotics—via prolific upstart Vancouver label 1080p. The label’s MO, a Gatling gun of weird, underground electronic music, and choice of format—the label releases only via cassette and digital—make it difficult for a young artist to stand out, and indeed McFerren seems to remain off the radar of DJs and trend watchers.
Lawd Forgive Me is something of an ode to classic rave, a sample-based music whose sense of humor offset its withering assaults. Lawd is similarly stuffed to the gills, reaching for any hook it can grasp and then deploying it in staccato bursts, recycling and appropriating as it sees fit. It mimics rave’s bolted-on mysticism, deploying preachers and movie dialogue. Standout “Acid” is particularly egregious, prominently utilizing samples from Black Box’s mega-hit “Ride on Time” over a tricky breakbeat, a distorted voice periodically chanting “Aciiiiiiddddd.” As usual, there’s a yuks to be had: acid house’s familiar, squelching bassline is the only trope missing.
Rave revivalism has been a trendy maneuver recently, and part of Lawd Forgive Me’s appeal is that is has no interest in imitating old sounds. Nor, crucially, does McFerren seem interested in rave’s future, as artists such as Rustie have hinted at with their gleaming maximalism. Lawd Forgive Me jacks and pumps in a distinctly modern manner: its samples clear-eyed, their stitching hidden. Rave evolves the same way stage magic does: the conceit remains constant, the deception and lures improve.
Lawd Forgive Me’s tracks make tight, expert turns. It can seem like McFerren’s veering wildly if you’re not used to a suspension tuned this tightly, when the opposite is actually true. “Timeless” (note another rave banality) takes its time setting up a bog-standard, rising bridge—windswept chords, fiery gospel exultations—only to suck the air out of the room with a minimal, whistling synth. It’s the techno equivalent of pulling the trigger and firing a little “Bang!” flag.
McFerren’s vision isn’t quite so refined, even if his craft is: the back half of Lawd Forgive Me packs fewer surprises, though the seasick sway of “Make Our Own Prisons” indicates McFerren’s been taking cues from UK upstarts like Elgato. But at its best Lawd Forgive Me howls with laughter and creativity, entertaining enough for your desk but surprisingly burly and rugged. Some adventurous DJ will give tracks like “What Justifiable Confidence!” and the criminally short “Lifeswork” (which is begging for an 8-minute extended play mix) a good home, with McFerren giggling as the dancefloor burns.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/15pqodT