John Roberts Fences

John Roberts Fences
8
At the close of 2010, John Roberts released his debut record, Glass Eights, on Hamburg's famed Dial imprint. A melancholic album of beautifully restrained deep house, apparently inspired by the music of the Smiths and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, it was a strong debut that demonstrated the Berlin-based producer's unique take on the form. On Fences, his long-awaited follow-up (released to coincide with his performance at this year's MUTEK festival), Roberts surprises us yet again with an un-categorizable album that's unique and individualist in scope. The samples are more organic, especially the drums, and the mood is brighter, although that melancholy is still very much part of the mix. From openers "Bleach" and "Palace," it's immediately clear that Roberts has moved away from the deep house of Glass Eights towards a more expansive, unique sound. "Mussels" is Roberts at his most organic, with its looped strings and circular drum patterns, whereas the acid-laced "Calico" expresanses his melodic IDM influence. Fences is a unique album from an accomplished producer that demonstrates a wilful disregard for genre and fashion. Roberts doesn't deliberately buck trends, rather he appears to be completely removed from them. And therein lies the strength of his work. (Dial)