E. Blake Davis

Limit

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    5
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On his debut album, Limit, Seattle producer E. Blake Davis combines an organic, sample-based sound environment with the ridged structures of minimal techno. The bulk of the melodic and thematic material is derived from looped instrumental fragments, and the 4/4 bass drum pulse is a constant presence. Sometimes the rhythms veer toward house, as on the driving "I Am the VJ," which is propelled by an insistent guitar sample and sounds similar to the hypnotic tracks of Germany's Burger/Ink, while other tracks are more amorphous in design, such as the bottom-heavy drone of the aptly named "Bass Ghost." The sound design is consistently impressive throughout (nowhere more so than the East Asian-flavored "Cribtime"), but the overriding emphasis on short, relentlessly repetitive loops robs the tracks of tension and dynamic range. Loops are the foundation of minimal beat-driven music, but top-tier producers have mastered the art of subtly varying elements and tweaking the repetition slightly to drive tracks forward. Limit hints at something greater, but ultimately comes across as a bit static.

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