Available on: 50 Weapons LP
Addison Groove, originally the side project of dubstep mainstay Tony ‘Headhunter’ Williams, has quietly grown into one of the most reliable dance music artists around. If it seems strange to use the word “quietly”, then maybe it is – Addison Groove’s 2010 single ‘Footcrab’ was one of the year’s most celebrated, and widely-considered one of the key tracks that introduced Chicago footwork to a UK audience. But regardless of ‘Footcrab’’s impact, Addison Groove’s singles since (‘Work It’, ‘Make Um Bounce’, ‘It’s Got Me’) have hardly been lauded from the rooftops. For me, however, they’re immaculate, and make up a tight, close-to-flawless discography.
That is, until now. In terms of its make-up, Addison Groove’s debut album Transistor Rhythm follows the same pattern as the singles that led up to it: thumping drum loops made on a Roland 808, punctuated with hip-hop samples and the odd wash of synth. It’s simple music by Williams’ own admission (in past interviews, he’s admitted that Addison is often an excuse to get away from the heavily-EQed music of Headhunter), and in the past that’s what’s made it so deadly. But on Transistor Rhythm, something’s been lost. I don’t know whether in an attempt to make all these tracks hang together as an album, Williams has held back so that certain tracks don’t overshadow the others, but the overall result is the definition of unspectacular.
Maybe Addison’s trying too hard to be modest. Something else Williams said in a recent interview, this time with Data Transmission, is that his plan was to make an album that “you can play in your car and have it on for 40 minutes … nothing sticks out or is really offensive when you’re driving.” But that strikes me as the last thing I want from an album – and given the potential to completely wreck a club that Addison Groove tracks like ‘This Is It’, and, to be fair, Transistor Rhythm’s best track ‘Bad Things’ have, it seems like the definition of selling yourself short.
Three paragraphs into the review, and only one track from the album mentioned by name. I know. But honestly, this is the problem with Transistor Rhythm – so little about it stands out. ‘Superlooper’ and ‘Beeps’ do, but only because they’re filled with high-mid synth bursts that sound like a more refined version of what Switch and Crookers were playing five years ago. Elsewhere, the aptly-named ‘Skylight’ is a highlight, throwing filtered voices into the mix like dust floating in light, and ‘Incredibly Exhausted Bunny Ears’ is straight out the Drexciya books, with a simple drum machine grid used as a blank canvas to take things as far out into space as you can push them. ‘Entropy’ ends the record on a high.
But overall, Transistor Rhythm is a well-made but forgettable album by someone who, given past form, I’d expected more from. It’s not offensive, sure, but that only helps file it alongside a thousand other albums that you’ll have forgotten about six months after they were released. Now, if Addison were to have made this album with an interesting vocalist over the beats then the results might be very different. But in its instrumental form, there’s just not enough to keep my interest.