Dextro is the chosen handle of Ewan MacKenzie, a 27-year old Glasweigan musician who has moved on from the purest medium of dance music with 12” releases on Jumblefunk and James Holden’s inventive Border Community label, onto his first full length release, Consequence Music. It’s the product of six months of solitude in the Scottish hills, away from the temptations and distractions of contemporary living and this scenario has infused this debut LP with the hazy psychedelia and pastoral melancholy that washes through the music of fellow Scots, Boards of Canada who also do their thing in the middle of nowhere. There must be something in the water.
The opening track, “Bladder Wreck” hints at the ambient lushness of Brian Eno, but the introduction of a shuffling live drum beat dates it nearer Manchester ‘91. “El Viento” is good too; the shambling groove of the Beta Band coupled with soaring Sigur Ros vocals to make a Balearic-indie gem just made for sunsets. Better again, and the best thing on the album by a mile, is the epic “Destroy The Future Of All Mankind”. Over the nine plus minutes it builds and builds in to a song of startling beauty which comes to a chiming whole incorporating subtle hip hop breakbeats, then falls apart like a flower in time-lapsing decay.
Over the nine plus minutes it builds and builds in to a song of startling beauty which comes to a chiming whole incorporating subtle hip hop breakbeats.
There are lovely moments of plaintive folktronica (“Calcutec” and “Rotifer”) during the second half of the record and throughout there are nods to the avant garde in the sampling of field recordings (a sampled printer makes up the percussion on “Calcutrec” or Japanese streets in “Bladder Wreck”) and krautrock in some of the live sounding, looped drums which pepper the eight tracks.
There are no bad songs on Consequence Music, and there are a couple of great ones. Every now and again Dextro seems happy in the twin comfort zones of layers and tempo, without enough moments to surprise or drop jaws. But then it is a debut (easy to forget at times), and there is plenty of time for MacKenzie to reinvent the wheel like his heroes Eno, Philip Glass and Neu. For the moment there’s enough to enjoy and to make it a decent record. And one song alone to buy the whole thing for.