Release Date: Sep 30, 2008
Record label: Morr
Genre(s): Indie, Electronic
The music of Andrea Mangia (aka Populous) has evolved in a way that mirrors Morr Music's development from a home for abstract electronic music into an outpost for charming electronic pop: his debut, Quipo, reveled in warm textures and atmospheres; Queue for Love added touches of soul, hip-hop, and jazz, as well as nods to vintage electronic music from the '60s and '70s; and Drawn in Basic serves up deceptively simple songs that have an added charm thanks to the vocals of New York-based MC Short Stories. Short Stories' boyish voice -- which recalls Air and Darkel's Jean-Benoit Dunckel -- is the perfect complement to Drawn in Basic's electronics, which are so basic they're almost rudimentary, but delightfully so: the beats thud and fizz and the synths buzz and bleep like toy instruments. These simple parts come together in surprisingly, remarkably affecting ways, as on "Man Overboard," which sets its hopeful yet pleading chorus of "I'm not giving up" atop tidal wave-sized synth swells.
Italian producer Andrea Mangia has already produced two pleasing, often beautiful albums for Morr Music, and collaborations like “My Winter Vacation” with Dose One (from 2005’s Queue for Love) amply demonstrate his facility at crafting productions for vocalists that go beyond fitting to a kind of symbiotic bliss, but it’s not until this album-length collaboration with New York’s Short Stories (aka Michael McGuire) that he’s really realized his potential. Over sixteen brief tracks, Mangia and McQuire craft buzzy, soft focus pop songs that split the difference between the synth-rock heroics of days gone by and the more insular, gentler end of shoegaze and dream pop. Even the instrumentals show a marked increase in focus and melodic sense to Populous’ previous work (the brief “Raimondo” being the cream of the crop), but when McQuire brings his wounded and boyish voice and knack for strangely affecting emotional opacity to bear, Drawn in Basic really hits home.