Madison Square Gardner
In which Fancy Mike (Mike Kleine) inaugurates the Salmo, British Columbia-based King Deluxe label with a tasty collection of future-retro instrumental hip-hop called Madison Square Gardner. Kleine's only been operating under the moniker since 2008 but navigates the territory with aplomb as he powers his lo-fi, synth-heavy tracks with glitch-hop and crunk-funk beats. With a taste for analog-driven technology and tape hiss, Kleine weaves elements of synth-pop, dubstep, crunk, and hip-hop into a bass-heavy, eight-cut collection that weighs in at a svelte twenty-four minutes. As such, Madison Square Gardner may seem more EP than album but give Kleine points for keeping his tracks lean.A next-level instrumental beamed in from another galaxy and powered by bleepy synth lines, entrancing arpeggios, and a wonky hip-hop pulse, “Ramachandran” immediately serves notice that Kleine's music is worth one's time. Following an opening fusillade of splintering sounds, “Ivy League Smack” rolls out a steamy slab of bass thump and smooth head-nod with all of it soaked in an industrial bath of clatter and wah-wah melodics. In “Lazer Opera,” a choir of warbling synth swirls paves the way for bass-thudding rhythms inflected with snake-rattling hi-hats, while “Hipster Crack” anchors grinding synth bleeps and a raw guitar figure with a bulldozing beat that might be the album's heaviest. Suave to its velvety core, “Cartoon Pornography” brings a jazz vibe and silken strings into its crackle-drenched orbit, all the better to sweeten its bottom-heavy flow. The crunk-styled banger “Mickey Mouse” snakes its way through a post-Dilla scrapheap filled with stuttering beats and soulful vocal fragments. To Kleine's credit, Madison Square Gardner dishes out one neck-snapper after another, with not a single one wearing out its welcome.