Maxmillion Dunbar, Polo (Versions)

[Live At Robert Johnson]

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The past few years in dance music have suggested that no one can do house quite like Americans: no matter where your favorite contemporary house records were coming from, there’s a good chance their warm chords and reverent drum programming wouldn’t have been possible were it not for Detroit, Chicago, and New York. But while the steady stream of amazing records flowing out of Frankfurt institution Robert Johnson’s in-house label takes plenty of cues from vintage American sounds, the way they put it all together would never be confused for either “the real thing” or some weak, overly reverent simulacrum. It’s not that Live At Robert Johnson does something purely European; they, like the late Playhouse label whose spirit they’re so often credited with invoking, synthesize too many influences — and fresh ideas — to point in one single direction.

Still, an American releasing on LARJ is likely to attract some attention, especially when the American in question, Maxmillion Dunbar (real name Andrew Field-Pickering), is likely to pique interest no matter who’s putting his stuff out. On records for labels like Ramp and L.I.E.S., Dunbar has let us into a dense and hazy yet highly ordered soundworld. Like Floating Points, perhaps Dunbar’s closest contemporary, the Maryland native can look over his shoulder into the past without slowing down his march into the future. His track “Polo,” the lead cut on last year’s Max Trax For World Peace 12″ on Future Times, was one of Dunbar’s most straightforward tunes — a restrained, slinky distillation of the Maxmillion Dunbar aesthetic tailor-made to get under your skin.

It also happened to sound like a dead ringer for LARJ; so despite its American pedigree, it’s really no surprise to see “Polo” reappearing on the label for a victory lap. For the A-side, Dunbar extends “Polo” to well over nine minutes, giving the original plenty of breathing room. For a track that’s suddenly so sprawling, “Polo” (Extended Mix) remains focused and tremendously on point, perhaps because the bulk of it hasn’t been futzed with. Rather than add some new twists and turns, the added intro and outro reveal “Polo” as a fine piece of music in its own right, regardless of whether it’s sitting in the mix. LARJ mainstay Lauer wouldn’t have had to do much to “Polo” to bring it into his corner, as the original’s subtle euphoria is already of a piece with his own work. Still, he finds plenty of room for personalization on his flipside remix, which perks up the beat and injects some extra bounce into the original’s bass line. Polo (Versions) may not be entirely new, but music this good is likely to sound fresh regardless, and the original’s reappearance likely to earn Maxmillion Dunbar plenty of new supporters. The release also portends another big year for Live At Robert Johnson, a label that continues to make setting the pace in contemporary house music look effortless.

tcb  on February 16, 2012 at 7:06 AM


solomon  on March 12, 2012 at 10:43 AM

he is such a good poker player.


Little White Earbuds February Charts | Little White Earbuds  on March 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM

[…] [Mute] 10. Geeeman, “Fire Extinguisher” [Clone Jack For Daze Series]Chris Miller 01. Maxmillion Dunbar, “Polo (Extended Version)” [Live At Robert Johnson] 02. Demdike Stare, “Dauerlinie” [Modern Love] 03. Shed, […]

TCB, Monogamie – Little White Earbuds  on October 17, 2013 at 12:01 AM

[…] At Robert Johnson, hitting just slightly left-of-center has been enough. Maximillion Dunbar’s Polo, Roman Fl├╝gel’s Cookie Dust, Benedikt Frey’s Running in Circles — they all fall […]

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