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As the impetus for the creation of the now highly functioning Miami label Merck, Travis Stewart had faced high expectations for his sophomore release, Salmataxia. Well, as high as anyone can expect from a small regionalized experimental music scene. Tellingly, Stewart has moved away from not only his first release, but much of the gristled Miami IDM sound as found on labels such as Schematic and Beta Bodega. In its place, he has moved into more light-stepping territory on cuts like "Pan_IC" and "Slo KY," both of which bubble more than stomp through intricate programming sessions. Imagine Plaid with a lesser ear for melody, although Stewart's minor-key ambience is moody but never dissident. Only "Capital M" offers a tactile sensation with any grit in its loping stride. The eternal insectival buzz and chirp of IDM remains fully intact, and no one should accuse Stewart of going soft. But his intentions are clearly to sooth more than activate, as if he's realized that pushing sounds to their threshold might make them "new," but not necessarily appealing.

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