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Wednesday
Jul132011

Arthur Oskan - A little more than everything

Thoughtless

It seems as if there will always be a place for Detroit techno. For the most part, this is a good thing: not only did the music originate from the Motor City, but its producers pioneered a distinctly emotive, soulful variant of techno which not only broke vast new ground, but has proven to have lasting appeal on dancefloors and bedroom stereos alike. Today a new crop of (mostly European) producers carries the Detroit flame, albeit with mixed success.

Toronto’s Arthur Oskan would seem to be one of those torchbearers, and in many ways, his new album “A Little More Than Everything” captures both why Detroit nostalgia is still vital, yet at the same time, why it can hold its adherents captive to an idea.

The best moments on “A Little More Than Everything” come when Oskan indulges his appetites. Dripping with reverb, the slick synths of “Two Seasons” evoke later Model 500 and Carl Craig, and the wide, flat horizons of Midwest winter. “Tracksuit” has the liquid funk and rolling counterpoint melody of Octave One. It’s infectious. “Pensive” marks the album’s high water mark: a deeply melancholic melody lives up to its name, yet is eminently danceable. These are sure successes, and tracks that will stay on my playlist for a long while.

It’s too bad the rest of the album is so forgettable. “Use No Good,” “Play Keep Away” and “Morning Calling” are like bones thrown half-heartedly at the Berlin or Williamsburg loft crowd. They’re fine, but you’ll get much more interesting versions of minimal funk elsewhere. “Moodswings” is just drab. So, basically, Oskan is at his best when he’s most self-consciously wearing Detroit on his sleeve, and worst when he’s trying to breakaway from it.

One exception to this rule is “Fat Mobile,” which isn’t Detroit-y at all, but a real corker nonetheless. Another is the vast slice of ambient on display with “Blood from a Stone.” It’s creepy, and good.

At the end of the day, this is an album that’s worth listening to, and its high points are worth putting on your heavy rotation. As a complete work, though, it leaves something to be desired.

Gustav Brown

Arthur Oskan at Discogs 

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