There’s a comforting certainty that lingers around the arrival of a new DMX Krew LP. Ed Upton’s electro-oriented project reaches back to 1994, and Strange Directions, his 21st album, is true to form. Such a description could risk seeming a little reductive, but Upton’s version of consistency is actually immensely satisfying.
It’s all about simplicity – the DMX Krew arsenal is crammed full of vintage gear, and Upton tends to let these instruments sing on their own with a minimum of crafty effects processing and post-production. Hence the warmth and punch of his music feels instantly familiar, while the compositional ideas themselves are loaded with wit and flair. From the low-riding acid funk of Hip Hopeless via the cosmic robo-disco of Nice Portal and on to the wriggling 2-step of Thin Hype, it feels like Upton’s on a mission to show off the different styles he can tackle with his merry band of machines.
The winsome electro strains of Soft Networks is a clear highlight, while slow proto-hardcore opener Snowy Blue harks back to early Production House records, albeit with some starry-eyed synth weirdness rubbed into the mix in a manner that, ultimately, could only come from the DMX HQ.