Madegg: Tempera

Kyoto-based beatmaker Madegg (Kazumichi Komatsu) follows his 2011 mini-album, Players (Bunkai-Kei Records), with a new sixteen-song collection of wonky glitch-hop. Though the material sounds very much like he's been keeping his ear close to the ground, the young producer apparently created the album while cut off from outside distractions like other music and the internet. That said, it's hard not to hear echoes of UK bass music, Flying Lotus, and the like within Madegg's tracks.

The recording features head-nodders aplenty, many of them liberally sprinkled with fairy dust and cued to a relaxed BPM that goes down easily. Bass lines slither through claps-accented beat patterns and layers of fragments (vocal and otherwise) and piano tinklings. Traces of hip-hop, electronica, funk, and dubstep surface in Madegg's tunes, which are often tinged with warmth and melancholia to give them a sweeter edge (“Reg,” “Sai,” and “BRD” are good illustrations of the style). “Storyteller” sparkles radiantly, its bass-heavy lope only faintly audible beneath the plentiful showers of bell tinklings, while “Tou Mei” catches one's ear with its stuttering vocal effects and dizzying swirl. And perhaps it's nothing more than the power of suggestion, but “How Far Can This Boat Go Out To Sea In Miles” nevertheless exudes a glitchy sing-song quality that makes its sound like something The Boats might have produced during one of their sunnier moods.

Despite being multi-layered and intricately detailed, Tempera is eminently listenable and melodious, soothing (but not bland) and thus not likely to set anyone's nerves on edge. At sixty-nine minutes, it's also a bit too much of a good thing, though Komatsu deserves credit for infusing the tracks with a consistently fresh bounty of imagination and invention. In short, there's not a clunker in the bunch, and each track has something to recommend it. It's also an excellent soundtrack for the early morning, the kind of soul-cleansing music that washes over you and helps ready you for the day's challenges.

March 2013