is not an ambitious album. It’s nice and compact, an aural treat in fun-size form, and doesn’t attempt to be anything more that eight spacey, chilly downtempo creations. And, of course, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that Thriftworks rarely leaves his comfort zone here. Staticky and nasally, “The Touch” seems a few tweaks away from passable as a Bonobo B-side, and the cold metallic blanket it wraps around the listener’s ears leaves a gleaming sheen in its wake. It’s an emblem of what makes the album work so well - when he finds something that works, the music ends up relaxed, confident, and wonderfully broken.
“The Touch,” however, is also symptomatic of what’s wrong with Deviation
. The quilt of sound it weaves feels as threadbare and tired as it is warm and unsettling. The meandering downtempo of nearly the entire release comes off as old and done to death, and the near-total lack of experimentation and boundary-nudging hurts, especially in a genre which relies so heavily on pushing at the limits of sonic architecture. Particularly apparent are the similar-sounding nasal synths which change very little over the course of the release, a facet which pushes the album even closer to the threshold of cyclical tedium.
It’s particularly damaging to Deviation
, then, that it lacks scope. While it’s pleasing to listen to at times, its aimless wanderings within the realm of downtempo are too lackluster and unfocused to succeed. The grating dissonances between certain elements within every song - the narrow bass and bleepy main chords of “Feeding Time,” the glassy percussion, chopped vocal samples, and wobbly synths of “Metal Tho” - hurt its cause even further, as the prevalent sonic candy doesn’t fare well during clashes. Aside from the wonderful hip-hop of “Terminally Chill” and its syncopated, otherworldly bleeps and bloops, Deviation
is unfortunately a fully unremarkable release - it’s just too damn safe for its own good.