Uncanny Valley is great, isn’t it? Whereas most labels’ artistic direction is controlled by one to three persons, the Dresden imprint is far more communal, with 15 to 20 producers having their say. For many of them, UV is the very first outlet for their music. Not so for Robert “Cuthead” Arnold, who has two albums behind him. For many years a hip-hop producer, Arnold has recently begun pursuing more electronic sounds. Brother shows both sides of this transformation, offering individualistic strains of both hip-hop and house. The first of three house cuts, “Vibratin'” employs a fairly vintage palette, with Roland toms, rimshots, and spoken vocals taking up most of the space. The oppressive kicks and bass which saunter below are about as deep as would seem possible. Their visceral effect is amplified by the bass’ composition; it’s not really a sequence of notes, but rather a constant thrumming. This fluidity works famously with the gargling 303 line that enters dramatically to dominate the second half of the track. Roland drums and acid; no one’s ever done that, huh? Somehow, it manages to sound unique anyway.
In “Brother,” the claustrophobic beat is swapped out for a jacking cadence and the spoken-word vocals for a repetitive female crooning, “Bruuutheerr.” This time, there’s also a cool, jazzy sheen imparted by mellow key-work. It’s really quite plain, but the tricky interplay of elements elevates it significantly. Each time those understated keys die away, the drums or rimshots always rise up, deviating from their usual sequence to stave off any hints of boredom. “Transgressions” is the mellowest of the house cuts, sporting a large-but-gentle low-end. It’s also rather spooky, with a pitch-bent organ drooping all over glassy percussive taps and crisp hi-hats. “Seram Lembah” and “Heartless” are short hip-hop sketches, neither lasting for longer than three minutes. In the former, some kind of world-music choir lays down seductive harmonizing over saw-wave bass and an emphatic, lopsided beat. In “Heartless,” the most melancholy of voices asks, “How can people be so heartless?” alongside similarly downcast chords and a quirky synth line. It’s a vocal sample of unusual emotional power; a power which infuses the whole track. Even without these two bits of hip-hop, Brother‘s diversity is admirable, especially since it sacrifices nothing in terms of cohesion. Just like Uncanny Valley itself.