Ibex, Meltdown EP

[Yore Records]


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The last Ibex transmission — Rush Hour’s 2009’s 360 EP — crept up on me slowly. Though I counted myself a fan from the first spin, my enthusiasm was initially a calm, matter-of-fact one. Lingering near the top of the record stack well into this past summer, though, its shouts and sighs found their way into more and more of my days and nights and, finally, I came around to recognize it as the smooth, enveloping and indelible record many had already adopted. In my defense, the man behind the music does have a bit of a knack for keeping his head down. Described in his own bio as “obscure” and “curious,” Tony Ollivierra gifts his downy tracks with idiosyncratic flourishes and what must surely be considerable musicianship, but neither insist on your attention. Tracks like 2000’s “Bok Choy” for Planet E, 2008’s “Second Coming” and the aforementioned “360” capitalize not so much on what you hear, but on a sensation that unsuspectingly steals into the room. And even as they batter you with a beat, the general impression is sometimes closer to an incidental series of jingles and rattles stirred by a breeze.

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“My Mojo” from his latest record, Meltdown EP on Andy Vaz’s deep-centric Yore imprint, maintains an airy, spacious atmosphere, its leads sliding through a sunshower of acoustic percussion. Even its soaring strings conjure bliss and tranquility. But despite the meandering melodies and galloping tempo, the track works itself into a contented groove without losing its allure. This, however, is as laid back as the four-tracker get. The hand drums, elastic upright bass, and woozy midrange that introduce lead track “18681” describe a steady sway, until storms of brisk piano and cinematic strings rush in and set off a breathless, dizzy chase scene. It’s right at home in the Yore catalog, where the rousing and introspective are often folded in unexpected layers, and title track “Meltdown” pursues a similar course. On the one hand, its hand claps, sampled crowd noise, and teetering chords keep the track’s shoulders slack. But the throbbing bleeps, zapping bass, and Mayday synth strings are pure clenched-jaw tension. To my tastes, the teeming sound design is a touch too busy, and the music never quite finds its voice. I doubt, however, that will prevent its thump and thrill from doing respectable business on many a dance floor this year. The dramatic, lurching “Mystery Babylon” strikes a cleaner balance, the fierce staccato of its metallic synth stabs cooperating with a patter of bongos, more sampled crowd noise, and a terrific sequence of hi-tech soul squeals. It gleams and broods at the same time without sounding like it’s tugging in opposite directions. I’m more impressed with the track each time I hear it, and can’t help but wonder if it will end up as one of my big tracks of 2011.

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