A View of U
Four years after Human Energy, Travis Stewart returns to his Machinedrum alias for his ninth solo album. As always, the tempos remain high and the sound design is otherworldly. The “U” of the title is short for “universe”; Stewart has said that his production was influenced by his daily meditation practice—specifically, the phenomenon known as an out-of-body experience. It’s easy to equate that sensation with the anti-gravity lift he achieves on tracks like “The Relic”, in which hi-hats and snares flicker like helicopter rotors, hovering in midair. Machinedrum got his start making IDM, then received the footwork gospel around the time of 2013’s Vapor City, but on A View of U he tends to fold all of his influences into hybrids that transcend genre. “Star”, with Brainfeeder producer Mono/Poly and Atlanta singer Tanerélle, is a buoyant fusion of bass music and R&B; the Freddie Gibbs feature “Kane Train”, a highlight, pairs ’90s rap’s horn stabs with folktronica’s acoustic samples. Atlanta rapper Father rounds out the cloud-rap dimensions of “Spin Blocks” with cool, meditative tones. But the album’s most salient through line is its rolling breakbeats, which infuse “Wait 4 U”, “Sleepy Pietro” and “1000 Miles” with the weightless sensation of drum ’n’ bass at its most liquid.