Monokle

Saints

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Russian producer Monokle (who also goes, rather alarmingly, by the name Vlad) has a degree in psychology and a background in fishing, and claims composer Erik Satie and silence as inspirations for his musical projects. And if none of this information gives you any way of predicting what his music will sound like, that's almost certainly by design; after spending some time in thrall to the IDM and glitch scenes, he has settled into a highly personal style that nods respectfully to house, dubstep, techno, and ambient without fully committing to any of them, and the result is both attractive and challenging. The stutter-step beats of grime and dubstep recur frequently, but often in unusual sonic contexts, such as the warm, dense, and rubbery "Glow" and the crisply dubwise "Homesick." On "Slower," a snare drum skitters along atop a lurching beat while Nadya Gritskevich sings beautifully back in the mix and chords emerge and fade again in luxurious layers. "Embers," on the other hand, starts out as pure abstract ambience, a slowly shifting cloud bank of beautiful and almost arrhythmic sound that floats aimlessly until the track reaches its halfway point, where it suddenly hitches up its trousers and starts marching away to a steady, house-derived beat. Throughout the album, textures are carefully and artfully constructed, and there is at all times a careful balance between comfortable sonic warmth and an undertone of unsettled foreboding.

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