Review Summary: Songs of the earth

"Expansive" is one of the most readily-apparent descriptors of Pool. Skee Mask's cornucopia of dance music lets listeners revel in the diversity on display, from sun-kissed ambience, roaring beats, and everything in between. At eighteen tracks and 100 minutes, it's tempting to think of Pool as an exercise in variety, or as Skee Mask's simply toying with a number of styles he's worked with in the past; while both of these perceptions aren't necessarily wrong, they miss what makes Pool such a monumental release for electronic music. The compilation-like nature of Pool is not a hindrance, but a boon that makes it his masterpiece as of this point in his career. Why might that be the case?

Frequently, full-length electronic albums are designed to cultivate a mood. The dense, never-ending wintriness of Compro's album art begs for some obvious seasonal associations, and the frostbitten melodies do well to add to it. That's not to say that there isn't variation in sound or style on Compro—there certainly is—but every track serves its purpose in fostering this specific atmosphere. Pool listeners would be hard-pressed to come up with a group of adjectives to cover all of the album at once. What a joy this is. Obviously, this isn't a revolutionary concept, and I don't want to make it seem like it is—eclecticism has long been heralded as a strong quality for long-players. Skee Mask's brand of eclecticism on Pool, however, is miraculous, in part because no matter which style he tries his hand at, he bats a thousand. Take a look at the few different styles on display here and it'll be clear how thoroughly fleshed out each sound is.

Begin at "Testo BC Mashup," your one-stop-shop for clattering breakbeat. It takes a few seconds for the listener to orient themselves, as they're treated to an incomprehensible digitized sample that feels like a splash of cold water as a wake-up call. As bleariness fades, clearheaded bliss engulfs. The percussion takes center stage, no doubt, but Skee Mask's synth work is confident and healthy. The balance of elements is as natural as could be, and this highlights what might be the most impressive of all about Pool; well-formed, self-assured, and lucid, it almost feels as if the tracks grew from the soil in the earth. Maybe that's the best way for me to understand the verdant field of the cover. Compro is wintry, Pool is natural.

Continue on through to "Fourth," the closer. You'll find none of the skittering digitized precussion of "Testo" here, but rather sighing synths, a (relatively) whispery bass drum, and a brief drum break that sounds closer to a '70s funk band than a 2020s producer. Jump back to the second track "Stone Cold 369" and you'll find warm and convivial pulsations with none of the loneliness and drowsiness of "Fourth." We'll end our journey at "Crosssection," which sounds like it's constructed from a sample of some sort. Vaguely bluesy and perhaps the most four-on-the-floor dancefloor-ready song of the bunch, it's a world away from any of the other tracks we're previously seen. The percussive palette is clearly breakbeat inspired, but its sample and rhythm almost evoke ghettotech or house. Skee Mask certainly makes the most out of his distinctive sound, stretching it to its limits and giving Pool the eclecticism that makes it special.

So let's color the idea of eclecticism with this new perspective; Skee Mask's palette is distinctive and surprisingly uniform on the album considering just how much he does with it. This is what makes Pool such a high watermark for electronic music.



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user ratings (84)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Ryus
July 25th 2023


37330 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

feels kinda unfinished but lord knows it needed a review

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
July 25th 2023


60929 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

is this album good

Ryus
July 25th 2023


37330 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yes very!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
July 25th 2023


60929 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

dope will tell all the pals

(oh wait they're already in the pool heck)

nice rev - first two paras nail the charm to this and i like how you play on its eclecticism by re-navigating the tracklist. could maybe have pinned down that sense of manifold possibilities and all tastes catered etc. a little further for the conclusion, but big pos for most certain write more u mix

Ryus
July 25th 2023


37330 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

def agree that this could be expounded upon but i just do not have the energy rn and i was impatient to get this out lmao. fleshing stuff out is not my strong suit



appreciate the feedback doe m/

Ryus
July 25th 2023


37330 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

where my poolheads at



whats yalls favorite tracks on this joint

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
July 25th 2023


60929 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

lol hard relate (am procrastinating reviewing essentially the grindcore version of a quadruple album that might just be AOTY and ugh), but you defs got the points that matter across

go-tos on this are CZ3000 Dub, DJ Camo Bro, Testo BC Mashup and Dolan Tours, but i haven't end-to-ended it in far too long. have really clear memories of diving (hurr) into it at the end of 2021 when i was just out of hospital and in a really debilitated state where i took it as easy as possible, ate my way back to health, and crammed as many gems from the year as possible - found a load of good stuff in that phase, but this was probably the main highlight

Ryus
July 25th 2023


37330 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

dolan tours and testo are basically like the quintessential nu-breakbeat tunes to me, i'd bet basically everyone into this album would call those two highlights.



i looove CZ3000 dub as well, it kinda scratches the same itch as "crosssection" insofar as surprisingly danceable loop-based bangers. dj camo bro isnt a particular highlight for me but still very good

parksungjoon
July 25th 2023


47235 Comments


be blessed my son

Ryus
July 25th 2023


37330 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

😇

parksungjoon
July 25th 2023


47235 Comments


ghettotechs runnin shit

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
July 25th 2023


18936 Comments


wonderfully written

Ryus
July 25th 2023


37330 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks v much yobro

Piglet
July 25th 2023


8499 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gud work soldier. dis album has many gud bleepy bloops indeed m/





parksungjoon
July 25th 2023


47235 Comments


piglet sighted

brainmelter
Contributing Reviewer
July 25th 2023


8366 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yaaaaaaaaaasss let’s go

pos’d hard

brainmelter
Contributing Reviewer
July 25th 2023


8366 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this finally has a thread

parksungjoon
July 25th 2023


47235 Comments


bmelt sighted

brainmelter
Contributing Reviewer
July 25th 2023


8366 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Testo bc mashup is otherworldly

parksungjoon
July 25th 2023


47235 Comments


i wil llisten to this in like an hour



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