Strategy

Future Rock

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Future Rock is a bold, but completely fitting, title for Paul Dickow's third Strategy album. Strategy's mix of dub, house, ambient, and dreamy pop (and whatever else Dickow sees fit to add) has always seemed at once timeless and ahead of its time, but here it's focused to perfection. As with Dickow's work in Nudge, Strategy's experiments sound even more purposeful and compelling when wedded to pop structures and hooks, albeit subtle and subverted ones, and Future Rock's highlights are its most accessible songs. "Can't Roll Back" kicks off the album with an impressive, yet playful, statement of purpose: big, dubby basslines and vocodered vocals provide the foundation for percussion, guitar licks, and warm keyboards that flit to and fro like a sonic mobile. "Stops Spinning" melds an oddly familiar, soulful melody with slow-motion grace and splashy reverb, while "Phantom Powered" contrasts ticking beats with an undulating melody that only fully reveals itself almost two-thirds of the way through. Fortunately, Dickow and company don't sacrifice any of Strategy's gift for fascinating textures for accessibility's sake. The album has so much depth that its pieces -- particularly interludes like "Sunfall" and "Windswept" -- feel more like sonic environments than mere tracks: the limpid, liquid "Running on Empty" is sleek yet intricate, building layer upon sparkling layer into a pool of sound. Beautiful and thought-provoking from start to finish, Future Rock is Strategy's finest work yet.

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