Venezuelan-born and Barcelona-based Luis Garbàn's been issuing music under the Cardopusher name for a good many years now, so no one should be all that surprised by the craft of his latest outing, the fifty-minute Manipulator. Ten unfussy, underground-styled productions make up the hardware-composed release, for which the Classicworks label co-founder drew upon old-school acid, electro, and early rave as inspirations.
Though Cardopusher releases have appeared on a number of labels, among them Frijsfo Beats, Tigerbeat6, Spectral Liquid, BNR Trax, Terminal Dusk, and Hyperdub, Manipulator is Garbàn's debut Cardopusher full-length on Boyznoize. There are some standout moments on the release: Garbàn digs into B-boy moves and bleepy IDM for the ‘80s-flavoured “Morning Traffic Dance,” a five-minute dazzler powered by boombastic drum machine rhythms, turntable scratches, and wiry synth textures, and though an early hip-hop vibe dominates, hints of jungle also manage to sneak into view in a couple of places. The percussive, synth-insistent thrust and funky swing of “Xerox” and “Manipulator” make such tracks easy to warm up to as well.
But Garbàn invites criticism in a number of cases for treading overly familiar ground instead of attempting something fresher. As decent a track as it is on production grounds, “Dance to the Acid H” checks off all of the expected boxes, with a monotone voice even robotically intoning “House” alongside the cut's gurgling, acid-drenched frame. And without denying the infectiousness of their motorik swing, “Cult 91 (3 AM Mixx)” and “505 Authority” likewise could be the work of any number of acid producers. Manipulator isn't undeserving of recommendation, but it would be nice to hear a little more originality and innovation the next time around, material that will immediately identify itself as the work of Cardopusher and no one else.