Young Smoke

Space Zone

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Young Smoke is an up-and-coming footwork producer based in Chicago, and if his debut album is a bit uneven, that's only to be expected from an 18-year-old working in a relatively new field of electronic music. It's unfortunate that the album starts off so unpromisingly: "Space Zone" and "Warning" get things off on the wrong foot, with too much repetitive and goofy vocoder verbiage (along the lines of "Warning. Warning. Warning" and "Space. Zone. Space. Zone.") and too little interesting music. But by the third track, things start looking up. "Futuristic Musick" gets much more interesting with a dark, rubbery feel and a slightly claustrophobic ambience, and "Space Muzik, Pt. 2" also delivers nicely, with layers of duple and triple meter shifting anxiously against each other, dubstep-style, while bloopy synthesizers and desultory gunshots comment from the sidelines. But then things kind of fall apart again on "Alien Pad," which features a groove so scattershot and incoherent that it almost sounds random. The whole program bounces back and forth in this way, sometimes impressing with complex and compelling beats and textures, then disappointing with relentless repetition of uninspired ideas. At his best, though, Young Smoke demonstrates the kind of talent that bodes well for the future -- both his own, and that of the footwork genre.

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