Protect-U, Motorbike

[Planet Mu]

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As Protect-U, Washington D.C.’s Aaron Leitko and Mike Petillo have released two outstanding EPs on hometown label Future Times. Seemingly following up on an initiative to sign the semi-related likes of Ital and Polysick, Planet Mu play host to the duo’s third record, Motorbike. The sound from those Future Times EPs is largely unchanged. Protect-U operate in a hardware-based, live-jam capacity — their closest analogue is maybe Juju & Jordash — and the three tracks on Motorbike feature the intuitive builds that setup implies.

“Lawndog” moves in restless spurts of percussion, while the title track stammers through flanged, stop-start patterns, anchored by a synth-pop bass line. Both have a sense of confused potential energy, seeming like they could coalesce into rousing cohesion at any moment. Instead, the duo exploit this tumult in the name of dissociation. In the former, a naive, piercingly dominant melody is riffed on to near incoherence, while the yawning, detuned saws in the latter lend a lysergic twist to proceedings. Closer, “Invisible Halo,” offers a different, more accessible side, as its drums are pared down to a gliding shuffle, complemented by drapes of downcast synthetics. On the whole, Motorbike is an exciting EP but far from an easy listen, as it shows an act willing to knock the overly conventional “raw house tracks” quasi-genre way off its axis.

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