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Paul Dickow has bounced around the Portland music scene for years, playing in Fontanelle, Two Noises, and currently, Nudge, a project led by Chicagoan Brian Foote. But his most compelling music is the stuff he creates on his own, under the name Strategy. His recently released third album, Future Rock (Kranky), visits some familiar terrain: it puts me in mind of the spaced-out electro-dub ambience released by labels like Basic Channel and Scape, but Dickow isn’t afraid to tap into his rock past to give the music a bit more heft and variety. Instead of just toying around with a single rhythmic or melodic idea, he stretches things out.
The rhythms on the first half of the album are slightly funky, and if the songs were mixed differently they could come off as straight-up bangers. Instead they're bathed in effects that blunt any dance floor orientation, and the vocals are heavily manipulated so they become just another thread in the sonic fabric—a good thing, since Dickow doesn’t have much of a voice. Much of the second half of the album pulls back on the beats in favor of spooky, drifty soundscapes.
Hakon Kornstad, Single Engine (Jazzland Recordings)
Manu Chao, Radiolina (Nacional)
Orquestra Imperial, Carnaval Só Ano Que Vem (Ping Pong/Som Livre)
Myra Melford Trio, Alive in the House of Saints (Hatology)
M.I.A., Kala (Interscope)