Album Review: Machinedrum - Vapor City Archives

Album Review: Machinedrum - Vapor City Archives
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Vapor City Archives
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A few years back, Travis Stewart started having the same recurring dream.  The veteran producer, known best as Machinedrum, was starting to split his time between the U.S. and Europe more and more, and his home bases of New York and Berlin merged together in his subconscious as a huge, imaginary metropolis.  In an interview with The Creator's Project, Stewart explained:

"I would kind of be transferred to this same city in my dreams where it felt familiar, even though I knew I’d never been there. In the dream I felt like I knew all the places, I kept seeing the same streets, the same shops and clubs. Same amusement parks and weird little details that I kept noticing were recurring, and it really started to freak me out that this kept happening."

This inspired Stewart to explore the concept creatively, and the damn-near-workaholic producer proceeded to come up with a list of over 70 tracks in preparation for his first album with Ninja Tune.  The cream of this crop became last year's excellent Vapor City LP, combining the emerging UK dance genre known as juke or footwork with more ethereal sounds reminiscent of acts like Boards of Canada.  This combination proved perfect for representing a dreamlike city, with juke's urban pulse smeared by IDM's surreal psychedelia.

So yes, Vapor City Archives is a collection of outtakes.  Only about a dozen of the 70 tracks made the initial album, and Stewart wasn't about to let the rest sit around collecting dust.  This presents a paradox; while one is thrilled to have more material from the sessions that produced a great album, one is also very aware that it won't live up to the original, and shouldn't be expected to.  Fortunately the pros easily outweigh the cons in this case, thanks to Machinedrum's boundless creativity.  Stewart has pretty much created his own sub-genre with the Vapor City project, so you should be eager to get your mitts on as much of it as possible.  From the beatless magnificence of "Tried and True," to the acoustic guitar-led "Safed," there is plenty to love here.  It all goes to show that Travis Stewart is as hard-working and innovative as they come, even when he's asleep.

Vapor City Archives is out now through Ninja Tune, watch an accompanying short film below.

Album Review · Drum and Bass · IDM · Juke


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