EP Review: Machinedrum “Eyesdontlie”

by Elizabeth Parker

Just when we thought the 90s were dead, Travis Stewart, aka, Machinedrum releases a 2-song EP on Ninja Tune. “Eyesdontlie” and “Body Touch” form a haunting and mildly retro introduction to Vapor City, Machinedrum’s much anticipated full length album out this September. The pre-released tracks are a part of the genius concept album, in which Stewart has attempted to replicate the sounds of the urban dream world he calls Vapor City.

Now based in Berlin, the North Carolina native is infamous for his ever-shifting identity and electronic music powerhouse title.  Here he uses a special blend of knowledge, experience and technique to deliver his hand-crafted sound.

The first single “Eyesdontlie” is a hard and trippy first look at dreamland. After an overly cacophonous preamble, the track progresses with what might be a bit too much jarring repetition, but let’s face it, that’s the effect he’s going for; a modern take on early 90s synth-y electronica. What’s to love about this track is the breakdown halfway through – ethereal acid house replaces robotic vocals in a moment of clarity, a la Underworld. It’s both varied and lush, metallic and old school.

B-side “Body Touch” is at first understated and yet is perhaps the better track of the two after a few listens. A slightly more laid back version of “Eyesdontlie”, not without a dash of hip hop and sleazy vocals, it seeps into your very being, willing you to dance the night away in Stewart’s haunting dream world.

Both songs feature outstanding production quality, distinctly Ninja Tune, and a sound which still manages to seem fresh and relevant among the millions of electronic tracks found in the universe.

While it seems Machinedrum has been merely playing with different mixes and sounds since his last full-length album, it’s obvious that his experiments have finally come to fruition. If this is any indication of what’s to come, we can’t wait to hear the rest.

Release date: July 29, 2013