Kenny Larkin

The Narcissist

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The Narcissist may not be the kick in the pants or the forward move that techno has been needing for years, but an inspired set of machine soul from one of Detroit's valued veterans should always be a welcomed thing. Kenny Larkin has been away from track-making for quite some time -- one unusual vicissitude keeping him has been his career as a standup comedian (rather than, say, producer's block or a packed schedule of lucrative DJ gigs across the globe). His return for Peacefrog is mostly low-key, especially when compared to his pair of mid-'90s albums. That's not to say that it's the least bit out of character. Most of the tracks lend themselves to a solitary freeway cruise a lot more than a packed dancefloor, put together with a keen sense of detail that often seems to value open spaces as much as effective drum patterns. (This will probably be at the expense of some listeners who found more to gnaw on in his hard-charging 4/4 workouts of yesteryear.) Through "Mono e Mono"'s coarse breakbeats, "A Part of Me"'s irregular percolations, "My Reflection"'s jazzy stutter-steps, and "Fortune Teller"'s graceful pulses, Larkin cunningly sculpts and maintains a particular mood without ever stopping the flow of ideas. The best is saved for last: like Carl Craig's "A Wonderful Life," "In the Meantime" stalks pensively and swirls around with delicately pattering percussion and lulling chords, fading to end as if it could come back at any moment -- in your subconscious, perhaps? This track alone justifies the producer's extended period of inactivity and needs to be licensed to a soundtrack for a psychological thriller as soon as possible. The fact that Larkin can go away for so long and come up with one single track that decimates certain active producers' collective works is a testament to his enduring talent.

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