Isolee - We Are Monster
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Isolee
We Are Monster
(Playhouse)

Isolée is one Rajko Mueller and We Are Monster is his first full-length album in some time, following a string of highly coveted singles. It's a release that dips into everything from house to disco to even indie electronic music (true) for something that's compelling and oddly timeless. Every time I hear the release, I find it interesting that I can't really peg it to any particular time period, as is the case with many dance-related releases. It feels heavy and serious in places and almost lo-fi in others, and that's part of why it works.

The other reason it works is because there are ten tracks that diverge and converge. It explores a lot of different ground, but at the base of every track is something that makes you want to shake your hips a bit. "Picture Loved" opens the release with many of the aforementioned qualities as chopped-up vocal samples flit around chuggy beats and pitch-bent synth samples for just over four minutes. "Schrapnell" is even better, lurching along with what sounds like spaghetti western soundtrack samples, lap-steel guitar, simple but effective keyboard melodies and some wicked lo-fi drum hits that punctuate the track at just the right moments.

Meanwhile "Enrico" drops some gated vocal stutters and some subtle, but highly-inspired beat programming while "My Hi-Matic" blends some squirty old-school electro sounds in alongside some juicy rhythms before turning in a quiet latter section that is downright lovely. In terms of sheer dancefloor fare, the big hitters arrive around the middle of the album with "Do Re Mi" and "Face B." The former rocks some metallic synth sweeps and plenty of sonar-blip shimmers while the latter flat-out bangs with a dark and gritty bassline and slippery/crunchy beats.

The release stumbles a smidge towards the end of the release with the slightly goofy sound effects-laden track "Jelly Baby/Fish" and "Today" completely breaks the feel of the album with its tripped-out guitar/analogue synth downtempo shuffle. Even those tracks have plenty to enjoy, though, and the album closes out nicely with the stretched-out arpeggios of "Pillowtalk." As a whole, We Are Monster is one of those fun albums that sounds great whether you're in the mood to move or just sitting down and listening on headphones as you ride to work on the bus. It's not trying to absorb any current popular trends, and instead sounds like a little bit of everything from the past 20 years. Not too shabby.

rating: 810
Aaron Coleman 2005-09-25 00:00:00