Saru

Downtempo Dojo

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    8
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Saru is Los Angeles-based downtempo electronica artist Steve Branson, who has appeared on numerous compilations and makes his solo full-length debut with this very fine program of dreamy beatscapes and off-kilter found sound samples. He's aided and abetted by guitarist/bassist Jim Behrens, who leavens the abstract atmospheres with swatches of actual harmonic content. On tracks like "Something Stronger" and the explicitly dubwise "Suck in Love," Behrens comes on like a tripped-out combination of Michael Brook and Bill Laswell while Branson loops beats and lobs samples around in the background; the relatively spartan textures of "Fishbowl Funk" manage to evoke classic soul and jangle pop at the same time. Like much of the best electronica, this stuff is relatively easy to ignore if you need to get some work done, but also rewards your attention when you make the effort to attend to it.

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