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Maxmillion Dunbar - House of Woo

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Artist: Maxmillion Dunbar

Album: House of Woo

Label: Rvng Intl.

Review date: Feb. 25, 2013

Over the past few years, vowel-ditching Brooklyn label RVNG Intl. has shown a deft curatorial hand. With both marquee releases and the experimental-leaning FRKWYS sides, head dude Matt Werth has managed to produce an engaging survey of genre-agnostic sounds from many corners of the underground.

House of Woo, the second album from Future Times imprint owner and Beautiful Swimmers member Maxmillion Dunbar keeps with RVNG’s habit of fostering cool without slipping into sheer trendiness. Unlike the dark, industrialized beats currently populating many dance music playlists, Woo is light on its feet — more the soundtrack to an evening of beachside serenity than a 5 a.m. scream from some Mancunian warehouse.

Dunbar — A.K.A. Washington, D.C. resident Andrew Field-Pickering — claims the tracks were born from his love for his girlfriend, which is appropriately charming. The Cupid-pierced inspiration makes sense, given the record’s woozy synthesizers and playful sense of melody. Yet, lovestruck or not, Dunbar is at heart, a floor-facing producer, and Woo contains its share of propulsive grooves.

“Slave To The Vibe” opens the proceedings with three minutes of crystal-gazing synth warbles before waking things up with a knocking hip-hop-cum-house beat. “Coins For The Canopy” and “The Figurine (Nod Mix)” improve upon the formula by disassociating the beat, swirling it amongst the more new-age elements. The effect is intoxicating, ideal for the “laying back in chairs and letting [the tracks] play over and over,” which Dunbar has spoken of.

This vaguely trippy soundtracking, however, is also responsible for the album’s key drawback. Although the record favors lower-BPM moments of the sublime, there is little to stick in the mind once the sounds recede. “Loving The Drift” offers a solid case-in-point, both in title and execution. While the cloud-soft ambience and padded, nu-disco beats are indeed lovely, there remains a sinking feeling that — much like a holiday sunset — it will soon slip away.

By Ethan Covey

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