You can tell Cardopusher was a fan of the electronica scene in the early 2000s. The influences from taste-making labels such as Warp, Planet Mu and Rephlex can be heard throughout his first album on Boysnoize Records - Manipulator. The acid of Luke Vibert and the ambient synths of Aphex Twin’s more modest acoustic experiments blend into the straight up electro more commonly heard on BNR as the Venezuelan-born and Barcelona-based producer blast through underground sounds. Yet, for all its nods to the past and Cardopusher’s status as a Red Bull Music Academy alumni, he sometimes struggles to bring enough future-thinking to his tunes.
When Cardopusher hits full pelt, the intensity is mean in a good way.
Manipulator gets off to a moody start as Cardopusher sulks around with dirty electro that is minimal in its approach much like label boss Boys Noize was putting out in the mid-2000s in the elecro heyday. The fizzy synths chug along but could do with a bit more inventiveness to sustain the near-five-minute length before “Morning Traffic Dance” creeps in with its percussive ambiance and “Addicted to the Acid H” gets lost in its retro acid and vocal repeat. Then Manipulator gets interesting.
“Photinia” tick tocks tension into the album which “Cult91” releases with an old skool beat straight out of the early 90s. Cardopusher channels Ed Banger electro on “Xerox” then mixes it with mid-90s rave flavours, ending with the audio assault of title-track “Manipulator” and a techno stomper “Parallax”. You feel Cardopusher would rather not produce an album that’s full-on, driving 4/4, favouring the assorted pacing to take in a broader spectrum of electronica. He perhaps needs to inject a little more zest into his sonic strolls to keep us keen, but when he hits full pelt, the intensity is mean in a good way.