nce again, Warp Records punches the time clock by releasing another cookie-cutter electronic music release. The year started off somewhat eventful for Warp, with a myriad of releases from some of their top acts. Unfortunately, all of these top acts have failed to deliver records up to par with their previous output. Squarepusher released a bland rehashing of his drill ‘n bass roots, Aphex Twin released a double album that could have just as easily been an EP, Autechre confounded listeners with abstraction, and Plaid has been releasing the same album since they signed to Warp. So, it’s only logical for Warp to decide to bring in fresh blood. Chris Clark comes in to mimic Squarepusher’s style even better than he can himself, and Brothomstates takes influence from nearly all the great Warp artists to build a concoction of tracks for his debut album on Warp, Claro.
Going through this album is almost exactly like listening to the entire Warp Records back catalogue. Each element of each song can be traced back to its historical precedent on a previous release that was done three or more years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for nostalgia, but at the rate that artists recycle themselves these days, it appears that electronic music will not be where musical innovation comes from anymore.
With the release of his debut album in MP3 format, Lassi Nikko, the man behind Brothomstates, entered onto the scene with a solid collection of affecting music that was extremely personal and complex. Definite influences could be drawn from the Warp label, but there was also an abstractness in some of the tracks that led me to believe there could be great promise and innovation from Nikko. His first full length release on Warp Records, however, lacks the affecting melodies that permeated this previous work. Instead, it seems that warmth and emotion has been muted, to a certain extent, and emphasis has been placed more on the technical aspects of the beats and effects that go on within the music. Somewhere in between the thought and production, the feeling has been lost. This is not to say that some of the tracks on Claro do not contain melodies that contain beauty, but in relation to his earlier work, they pale in comparison.
The first track of the record, “In,” starts off reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s “On.” Instead of a piano, however, this instrument appears to be an electronic flute. The track builds up, much like “On,” adding instrumentation and finally a beat. The track never builds up to the same sort of climax as its predecessor, but this is why it is one of my favorite tracks on Claro, because it only borrows so much from older ideas. With the next song, however, the drum comes in and I’m immediately reminded of Autechre from their Tri Repetae days; the sped-up drum pattern in the middle of the track only confirms my suspicion as to who they are drawing from on this track, as it plods merrily along. It is a solid effort, but only leaves me wanting to go back to listening to the original tracks that I hear contained within the version Brothomstates has produced.
A Warp Records press release for this album states that “Claro is as solid a debut as you will encounter this year, plain and simple.” I would agree with this statement. But it’s about as truthful as Ichiro Suzuki winning the Rookie of the Year Award for Baseball in America after playing in the Japan for many years. It’s not as though Nikko has appeared out of nowhere, his work has been available before the Warp release, if you really wanted to hear it. Brothomstates will prove to be a stunning artist, however, if he can continue to build on his influences that he so obviously draws from, and works to synthesize them into something greater than their parts, which he does adequately on Claro.