Mikkel Metal: Peaks and Troughs

Echocord, 2008

Peaks and Troughs cover

Metal’s dub techno has long been an Echocord staple. Like several other producers of the genre, he’s decided it’s time to seek some reggae cred. A quarter of the tracks here feature vocals by Paul St. Hilaire. The others are reggae-influenced, though they remain strangely precise and electronic.

On “Jeman,” Metal’s production hangs back while St. Hilaire smoothly and rhythmically fills the track with his beautiful voice. After such a stunning intro, “Bodium” is a disappointment, with tepid beats and an under-developed melody. Some of Metal’s sound choices seem off. The reverbed chords in “Newson Five,” have a strange twang. The snare drum on “Frico” is drained of life, and the synths are pounded like a toy piano. St. Hilaire’s vocals on “Never Run Away” and “Visions of Life” seem rather disjointed as well.

Thankfully, the deep bass on “Stephan” provides a welcoming embrace. “Lumever” plays with surface noise. “Get Over” is a much better showcase for St. Hilaire’s talent, with him murmuring, “You can never run away,” over creepy electronic textures. The title track is also nice and atmospheric.

I have mixed feelings about this release. I’m glad Metal is expanding his style, but I feel that his production, while slick, should be more soulful. There aren’t enough analogue sounds or distinctive melodies to make this into a classic.

3/5 stars

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