Micronaut, the more techno-oriented side project of Sister Machine Gun’s Chris Randall, is usually where Randall gets to exorcize his dance floor demons, but this time around things are darker and heavier than the usual house music and funky breaks fans have come to expect. The album starts off with “For Once Always,” and the sinister minor key synthesizers and clanking, industrial-tinged rhythms announce a new direction for Micronaut. “Normalized” likewise is full of dark ambient, metallic percussion samples, and enough distortion in parts to hint at power noise (perhaps an influence from recent touring partners Manufactura). “Darkness” is similarly eerie, but this time filled out with lush, melancholy cellos provided by Amish Rake Fight’s Mike Fisher, while the distorted vocal shouts on the hard trance “Perdition” add an angry edge to the track’s four-on-the-floor dance beats. This isn’t to say, of course, that Randall has abandoned the funk. There are still plenty of jazzy organs and fat bass lines on “Calculate,” though Randall’s keyboard solos are a bit more subdued than usual, and the guitar work of fellow Sister Machine Gun member Miguel Turanzas adds a more organic feel to this than your average techno record, particularly on the big beat “Sneer” and the more contemplative, blues-tinged “Crass But True.” Still, the album as a whole seems less about straightforward Chicago house music than tripped out spacey experimentation. The otherworldly feel of “Institution” and the psychedelic drum ‘n’ bass of “Failsafe” come a lot closer to the cinematic feel Randall seems to have been going for when he named the past three Micronaut albums after moons of Jupiter. Though previous efforts were good as rave records, this is the first that really feels like a rave on the outer edges of the solar system. Randall has done an impressive job evoking other worlds while still retaining the more earthly Detroit street sound that gave birth to the Micronaut project in the first place.
Take off to distant planets at micronaut.positronrecords.com.
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