dgoHn – Portus EP

3 out of 5

Label: Analogical Force

Produced by: John Cunnane

I’ll criticize Analogical Force’s output, sometimes, for skirting some type of too-close border to its influences, sounding rather exactly like various Rephlex peoples, though often without that final convincing or unique quality that makes the music tributary as opposed to mimicry; or like an updated version of the sound as opposed to just playing old stuff on new tech. That’s not to discredit skill, or that this stuff can be good (if unoriginal); nor does it cover that some AFers have successfully updated and made such sounds their own, or perhaps – gasp! – branched off in a new direction.

DgoHn’s Portus doesn’t trigger any of these sounds-like alarm bells, but I’m also not sure what fancy it does tickle. The artist – real name John Cunnane – hits on a groove that has a touch of hip-hop breaks in there (think Two Fingers) and the dancefloor funk of stuff like Luke Vibert, effected with warm production that makes the percussion sound live. The way dgoHn evolves on the songs’ setups – all four of which are head-bobby as heck – is very cinematic, making use of a lot of ambience, but I think what’s throwing me off is the use of some more typical “melodies” amidst the beats; structurally, the tracks end up feeling like the works of groups who switch off between electronic and live instrumentation – Trans Am; Tortoise – but with an m.o. that’s stuck between making music for the club, and making the soundtrack for some slick independent flick or indie video game: themes that are both instantly danceable, but then not quite overpowering enough so you can focus on whatever’s being scored.

Portus is really easy listen, and not immemorable. Confusingly, though, it’s also not enough of a calling card to make me track down other dgoHn works just yet. The effect of the album can maybe be summed up by the name of its second song: “Kind of sort of not really;” this is almost something, but I’m not sure what.