Review Summary: Maceo Plex may just be a moniker, yet there is something very real about Life Index.
Maceo Plex may just be a moniker, yet there is something very real about Life Index
. One of a few different performing names for artist Eric Estornel, Maceo Plex delves into the house sound, and does so with the same quality as his other exploits as Maetrik and Mariel Ito. It is fair to say dubstep has been garnering considerable attention in 2011 on sputnik, with artists pushing at the boundaries of the genre by drawing on sounds and ideas from countless genres. Lacking their sibling’s vigour and unexplored territory, the genres of techno and house are far from declining. Some have characterised this shift in the direction of electronic music in recent years as a move from vibe and feeling to more technical output. Regardless of how the more broad developments in electronic music are interpreted, Life Index
offers house music at its most rich and vibrant, far from characterising a waning or uninspired genre.
The single Vibe Your Love
was released in late 2010, as part of a huge year for label Crosstown Rebels. You’d easily be forgiven for still grooving to it halfway through 2011, with a delicious bass line and the occasional bar of piano chords moving through digitalised and distorted vocal samples singing “Do-ahh-hah.” A superb sampling of vocals from Stevie Wonder’s For Your Love
sound perfectly situated alongside the soulful beat. With no pretension or cheese to it, Wonder’s vocals aren’t dwelled on for long but add a little more magic to the song. Other songs such as The Feelin’
seem mindful of the sounds of the past, not emphasising its technical chops but working the vibe of the song with chopped up vocals and simple keyed instruments.
The pace is slowed down in songs such as Dexter’s Flight
, though the soul still lingers in the beat as vocal samples overlap and sound as if they’re coming from a cleared out arena. Though not exerting much energy in its movements throughout, the album suffers only slightly from its length, not dragging much as it grooves along. Bring it Back
at the tail of the album still moves with purpose, the vocal samples used again skilfully to create dynamic vibes and harmonies. There may be an element of cliché to the lyrics, but it’s harder to critique the delicious tone and structuring.
is not a revolutionary album, instead seemingly more concerned with interpreting the sounds and grooves of the past in a contemporary fashion. It is perhaps the logical successor to much of the most soulful house in the 1980s, the soul still very much alive today. Such comparisons probably draw fears of an outdated sound, though these fears prove unnecessary. Life Index
sounds fresh and vibrant, with songs like Vibe Your Love
justifying the ongoing relevance of house music with a slow and deep groove.
1 For a taste of Eric Estornel's work as Maetrik see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crIQR4iI7lg
2 For an example of the increasing attention given to dubstep in 2011, see dev’s review of Submotion Orchestra, http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/44302/Submotion-Orchestra-Finest-Hour/
3 For a perspective on the waning of minimal techno owing to a rise of dubstep and ‘dub-techno’ see http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2008/oct/07/death.minimal.techno.house
4 The clash between feeling and technical chops are talked about at http://www.offmodern.com/2011/06/revisionist-house/
5 The video for Vibe Your Love
can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEMvwl5EAfY