Electronic layers and vocoded vocals peppered in with some dub and ambient elements lend the debut EP by Masterface a subtle charm. Producer Cedar Apffel and engineer Rory O’Connor from Natureboy rally their electro skills for “Freedom Tower.”
Relying on their ability to create textures of electronic sound, Masterface turns out tracks that will lull your ears into a trance. The smoky vocals and mixed instrumentals put the band in a sounds-like range with My Morning Jacket and Air. While the disc has a style variety due to it’s use of effects, it feels like a cohesive, singular effort. Some individual tracks are better than the collective, but feel so incorporated that the disc sound be given a listen as a whole. It gives you the feeling as if you are drifting on an electronic haze, spiced up with variable drumbeats.
The track “The Magic Dragging” has a steady guitar swing, mixed with vocals reminiscent of 80s favorites, and picks up to the pace against some of the more wandering tunes. It is one of the more dynamic tracks on “Freedom Tower.” “Ancientface” is the opening track on the album and is lush, dark and echoing with a truly compelling quality.
On the whole, “Freedom Tower” lacks that indefinable something that would be needed to make it really stellar. It’s a missing a sizzle that can still be generated on even the most understated albums. However, even with little extra missing, it’s a totally enjoyable listen and welcome addition to the ambient electro genre.
Words: Lori Bartlett