Why you should care about Madeaux and his debut album ‘Love the Machine’ [Review]
Fifi Rong’s ethereal voice croons over a building steam-engine beat. With every step, a soft 808 pulses under her yearning call. The tension builds like a swelling wave, mounting to a sumptuous climax of distorted drum hits and sputtering synth stabs. This is Madeaux’s Love the Machine, and it’s downright awesome.
As of today, Andrew Berman, or Madeaux as he is known, has released the last track off his debut album, Love the Machine. Why should you care, you ask? Well, for starters, over the past two months, Madeaux has managed to grab the attention of the entire dance music blogosphere with his stunning production value. With a taste for cinematic bass and glittering sound design, the Miami-born producer is putting out some of the most interesting material we’ve heard all year. On top of this, Andrew Berman is the latest signing to Slush Management, the same group responsible for Porter Robinson and The M Machine. While these facts alone are enough to demonstrate his potential, Madeaux’s vision behind his LP further corroborates his awesomeness: “Our collective potential is unlimited and while this album barely scratches the surface I believe its ambition is a testament to the world we are building with each passing day.”
Now that Love the Machine has been released in its entirety, it’s worth taking a second to examine the nuances of the album to understand what makes it so successful. Throughout the LP, Berman’s idiosyncratic drum layering is strikingly evident. Tightly knit tom drums abound, while ghost snares pervade the background ambiance. The album’s tempos hover around 90-100 BPM (or 180-200 depending how you look at it), affording the chance for some truly innovative rhythms. “Epinephrine” is one such example, utilizing the faster tempo to create an engrossing, stripped down drum break.
Imagine mixing the intensity and brute force of trap music with the lush, otherworldly atmosphere of downtempo, and you’ve got something like Madeaux’s “Glittering.” The track balances a triumphant top layer of golden synth stabs with a bursting bottom end of mean 808 sub hits. Berman explains the duality of his work: “I wanted to test out my capabilities in addition to demonstrating my range for listeners. While many people knew me from my earlier downtempo work, I thought the way to really give my understated material dimension was by juxtaposing it with a full-on, digital onslaught.”
The album is a bit anachronistic. With its raspy, over-the-top synths and quick juke rhythms, it feels like big band jazz and funk thrown into the frantic future of a 22nd century mechanized metropolis. The dichotomy is particularly evident on “Revisionist,” which pairs horn-like square waves with a relentless drum line for both an old school-new school feel.
While softer cuts like “Body Collision” have you swooning in quiet meditation, the album packs some serious heat on tracks like “Young Sinner” and “Proxxxy.” The former is particularly invigorating thanks to its clean arp and quick tempo while the latter growls with the menace of a robotic beast.
The album closes with title track “Love the Machine,” an apt summation of the LP’s various influences, incorporating steel drums with the philosophical musing of Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound. Berman elucidates his vision with the album’s ending: “The electronic music revolution has only just begun and the closing track is a celebration of the amazing times that are ahead of us.”
By the time Love the Machine wraps up, it’s impossible not to appreciate Berman’s careful attention to sound design and the cinematic soundscapes he has created. In many ways, his style evokes a similar aesthetic to The M Machine and their well-known inspiration, Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis. It’s glorious and majestic, yet frenzied and rebellious. It’s fast, it’s dark, it’s forward-thinking yet conscious of the past. At the end of the day, it’s one hell of a debut for the young producer. If you’re still wondering who Madeaux is, here is your answer: he’s one of the most exciting talents we’ve heard in a long time, and he’s just getting started.