Style Encoding

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Besides a pair of tracks released by Swayzak on their 240 Volts label and some self-releases over the years, Codebase producer Tom Butcher's work had remained essentially unheard until the release of Style Encoding, his debut album for Force Inc. That's quite a big leap, certainly -- from unheard to techno elite. Yet if Butcher's resumé doesn't yet match that of his Force Inc peers, most of whom are among techno's elite, his style of electro-techno is no doubt on a par with that of his labelmates, if not perhaps even a bit more unique. Throughout this ten-song album, Butcher shows an evident debt to the Detroit techno school of beatmaking, as there's an omnipresent otherworldly feel to his melodies and a heavy reliance on good old-fashioned synthesizers. You can hear the electro influence in there as well. His rhythms are twisted and always intertwined -- bleepy synth lines intricately woven through b-boyish drum tracks and vice versa. A few tracks here stand out, especially the first two, "Collapse" and "Stripmine-2," which definitely catch your ear and get the party started, and quickly at that. Next is another great track, "Seek and Destroy," which slows the tempo down a bit and puts you in chill mode with some drawn-out melodic passages. From there, "Sharpshooter" again perks your ears up a bit with its high-gear electro sound -- modulated robot vocals and everything -- and then later "Stint" closes the album beautifully with eight heavenly minutes of textbook Detroitness. Clocking in reasonably at just under an hour, Style Encoding unveils a promising future for Butcher's Codebase moniker. The Seattle-based producer doesn't overreach here and doesn't bandwagon-jump, either; rather, he quietly acknowledges his roots yet embarks on his own path and carves out his own niche.

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