In 2020, Toronto-based US Girls affiliate Tony Price bought a used car and found a pile of old tapes from the owner, a former radio DJ and archivist, in the trunk. They turned out to contain hours of late 1980s house and techno mix broadcasts – sounds that Price pilfered to create his sixth album, Mark VI, which he named in honor of the car in question. A filter-laden instrumental dance record composed almost entirely of synths, drum machines and samples, it’s an affectionate pastiche of the era in question whose sibilant loops and gurgling bass lines are sometimes indistinguishable. of the original.
Price’s firm command of his materials shows exciting growth. He’s Only Tried Dance Music Once Before: The 2019 Album 86 d, which was so sloppy at times that it was hard to keep up with the beats despite their clear intention to shake your body. Outside of this LP, her dance music resume has been minimal. His co-production credits lie mostly with non-electronic artists – Young Guv, Michael Rault, US Girls – while under his birth name Anthony Nemet he fronted garage rock band Actual Water. His latest album, 2020s Interview / Discount, was a two-song free-jazz affair; 2018 Experimental Celica Absolute glued together distorted beats with blues guitar, industrial noise and dub sirens. Despite the new album’s relatively sleek machine beats, the line between his previous projects and Mark VI proves to be his abiding interest in gritty, lo-fi textures. The difference this time is that he uses them to make music that you can dance to.
The album sounds best when Price combines fast 808-point percussion with alarmist synths. The electronics on “Aerosol” recalls the ghost hunters theme; they open a portal to the 80s and inject adrenaline into Price’s shuffle. Mark VIThe title track fuses bleating synths and 808s into a tangy sequel with a beat so engrossing that the transition straight to “Prime” is completely seamless. There, hard synths evoking Galaga alien ships clash with phaser-infused explosions and an accelerated barrage of drum machines. On centerpiece “Valentino,” funk and house mingle in an invigorating mix as glitchy electronic chirps raise the already high stakes of fast kicks and synthetic slap bass. It’s all pretty advanced, given the haze that lingered over even the most frantic moments of 86 d. There, it looked like he was still figuring it out. Here, when he hits a high BPM, he clearly knows what he’s doing.
On side A of Mark VI, the tempos are faster and Price seems more comfortable in this high tempo zone. The somewhat syrupier and more composed B-side of the album, which eventually breaks down into ambient jazz, isn’t quite as enticing. “Phreak” has the same elements as the A-side best moments – jagged synths, a percussive undercurrent – but its slower pace feels relatively static, as Price left the more groovy parts on the floor of the mixing room.
Mark VISide A of opens with “Night Time Mind”, a collage of vintage radio commercials and broadcast chatter, and side B ends with that track’s presumed companion, “House of Information”. Amid its slowly moaning saxophones and shapeless purgatory-like synth bubbles, it’s the only track that fully recalls Interview / Discount-an ad for New York’s most expensive escort service stands out. On “Night Time Mind”, the roulette of commercial fragments alludes to the free musical approach and the fun times to come; on “House of Information”, they take full Mark VI away from electronics and act as a sort of surreal comedown. They almost take on the role of the MC who introduces and closes the Boiler Room sets. But if their lysergic moods denote avant-garde intentions, most Mark VI suggests a much simpler goal to Price’s archaeological experience in vintage audio: to have a good time.
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