Travis Stewart is far from a fresh face, a veteran of New York's electronic scene with over a decade of experience and at least six albums of rather hard-edged IDM and harshly abstracted hip-hop to his name, yet his debut for Planet Mu can't help but feel like somewhat of a rebirth. Room(s) is a stunning statement of purpose: Stewart takes the flatlined jackhammer of footwork and loads it on the back of jungle's freewheeling adrenaline flights, and when that fidgety, energy-overload style meets with Travis' sugary-sweet samples and candy-coated melodies, the product feels incomparably giddy. "Sacred Frequency," for instance, is a blindingly vivid track that mixes day-glo hysterics and unforgivingly frenetic rhythms into a framework that sounds like it's daintily tip-toeing even at its most slamming.
With ten years of releases already under his proverbial belt, Machinedrum is a mildly unusual signing for the tireless Planet Mu label, insofar as its head whipcracker Mike Paradinas tends to snap acts up while they’re still pretty new in the game. In respect of the actual music on this 11-track album, the sixth under this name by North Carolina producer Travis Stewart, it’s very much in line with what Paradinas has been pimping out over the last 18 months or so. Schmears of 808 hip-hop thump get thrown into the mixer (or, indeed, the washing machine drum) with airy femme vocals and intricate number-crunches of percussion owing a debt to Chicago’s footwork scene.
Rarely does a moment pass on Machinedrum's Room(s) during which a human voice isn't present. This wouldn't be noteworthy save for the fact that Room(s) is an electronic album, one (presumably) devoid of its creators voice. Instead, it is stuffed to the gills with harping, distended vocal samples deployed in hypnotic, overlapping curlicues. This style of sample, popularized by UK bass music, at this point has become prevalent enough that it represents modernity-- the sound of contemporary electronic music-- more than any one genre.