Dextro: Consequence Music
16K Records

Listening to Dextro's (Ewan Mackenzie) debut full-length Consequence Music, it's almost impossible to not trot out the old saw 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' or utter wisecracks like 'Send in the clones,' but I'll resist the urge to do so, simply because the Glasgow, Scotland-based producer's effort is so darned earnest and sincere. At least—small mercies, indeed—we're no longer enduring an endless parade of Autechre imitators, with many electronic producers now turning for inspiration to Ulrich Schnauss and Boards of Canada—too much in the latter case—instead.

Certainly the album's opener “Bladder Wrack” channels Schnauss, especially when a wistful melodica sails over rumbling bass lines, and the chiming keyboard melodies in the technicolour “Destroy the Future of All Mankind” evoke Schnauss too, though it's hard to complain when it swells to a euphoric climax. The hymnal mood in “Atman” becomes a virtual eight-minute exercise in BOC shoegaze bliss with the emergence of hazy beats and even a child's voice sample. Sometimes, Dextro conflates his influences, with “Itchy Boy” equal parts BOC splendor and relaxed Schnauss propulsion. The melodica, on the other hand, that sings over a cloud of synths and beats in the emotive “Calcutec” conjures a melancholic Sigur Rós mood. Unfortunately, when Mackenzie removes others from the equation in “El Viento,” what results is an overcooked exercise in tribal psychedelia, and the closer “Rotifer” likewise takes a wrong turn with the arrival of a chipmunk-styled voice sample. Yes, Mackenzie's hour-long set includes a few missteps and is derivative yet there's also some good quality material on hand. Hopefully, his sophomore effort will sound more exclusively like Dextro than anyone else.

July 2006