Blackploid – Strange Stars

3 out of 5

Label: Central Processing Unit

Produced By: Martin Matiske

These are such good beats. They’re weird, and instantly, bubbles-in-yer-gut funky, and cast a squiggly line across several different techno styles and eras without anything feeling too gimmicky, or like mimicry. And Blackploid (Martin Matiske) knows this, and so lets it ride, very slowly nudging things along, and adding just-as-instantly pleasing flecks of flourish at each step. …For about half of every song’s runtime. These are such good beats – but they never make it across the finish line to being great tracks.

Each cut on Strange Stars is about 5 minutes long, and they all follow a pretty exacting pattern: lay down the groove, let us revel in how distinctive and yet accessible it is, and then just as we’ve heard enough, add a sprinkle of another layer, or a slight tweak in the tone, and then let it wow us again. At 2.5 minutes, hit a break… and then repeat the first half. Like, almost exactly.

I’m not sure if I’d prefer the songs (and thus whole EP) to be half the length by cutting out what ends up feeling like filler,, but I do think rearranging this to let it section trail out longer might’ve been more preferable. It might’ve also helped to encourage something that Matiske’s approach seems to lack: a conclusion. The little swerves he adds are great, but we never quite get to that point where the beat drops and you feel like you’ve hit a peak – like, the songs are still building, and then we get to 2.5 minutes and start again.

Circling back around to how awesome these initial grooves are, though, it’s not likely it’s wholly unpleasant, just limited. Blackploid slicks along this mix of modern electro with just enough dashes of 80s / 90s house, and there’s this pretty sweet kind of ominous, horror movie-synth undertone to things, especially on ‘The Unseen.’ And being only 4 tracks and 20 minutes total, the structural flaw I’m pointing out is surely tolerable, and since this is essentially the same criticism I had of Cosmic Traveler, perhaps not unexpected, either – the flipside being if you loved that one, the formula here remains the same.