Review of „Uncanny Valley 02“ on Resident Advisor
With Uncanny Valley’s second release, the label’s name makes perfect sense: this crew of musicians from the Dresden Elbe Valley has a truly uncanny knack for the particulars of American house. You could figure that much out even without Kelli Hand’s guest vocal on Jacob Korn’s „Dance Away,“ in which the veteran Detroit producer and DJ sends shout-outs to „Dresden house heads“ alongside Motor City figures like Omar-S, Mike Huckaby and Detroit itself, repeatedly. Detroit, Detroit, Detroit: it’s easy to get hung up in hagiography, but when the homage is made with this much obvious love (and talent), everyone wins. Compared to his records for Dolly and Left of the Dial, it’s a distinctly different vibe for Korn, sounding more like Philpot’s carefree, jazzy, slightly quirky jack mode. And, with vibraphones tumbling like the flakes in a snow globe, it’s one of the most innocent, joyful things to come around in a while.
The other three tracks show off Uncanny Valley’s considerable range. Cuthead, who also appeared (as did Korn) on the label’s first EP, delivers a shuffling, mid-tempo, Rhodes-driven groove full of chunky sampled percussion and blues vox. The sampled keys are especially clever, with long, fluid lines chopped up into one-shots and marched up and down the scale. Cuthead has clearly been listening to Pepe Bradock and Pal Joey, and he achieves a similarly deep fusion of hip-hop and house.
„Thumbling,“ from C-Beams, sounds like something you might find on Workshop or Mikrodisko, with its lumbering bass and slightly sticky feel, as detuned keys warble over flanged hi-hat and 808 cowbell. It’s not the most immediate cut on the EP, but it’s the kind of track that, when the time is right, you expect will enliven an impromptu mix, showing its true colors in the proper context. Credit 00, who also makes his debut appearance here, dials the fluttering „Wave Memory“ all the way down to 100 BPM, turning out an analog throb somewhere between Oneohtrix Point Never’s arpeggiated grind and Chloe’s andante acid. Unlike many such slow-motion efforts, it makes the most of its painstaking crawl, reveling in off-beat hits and ungainly waveforms.
Words Philip Sherburne