This is Mike Shannon's third full-length album. It's been 10 years since Shannon started making a name for himself on the international techno scene as a DJ, producer and label owner (Cynosure, Revolver). Now, having recently relocated to Berlin, he's crowning his first decade of active service with Memory Tree. Shannon's music covers a broader spectrum than just minimal techno. In fact, 2005's Possible Conclusions to Stories That Never End was awash with downbeat electronica, highlighting a natural instinct for fusing rhythm and melody whatever the style or tempo. Although Memory Tree follows a more club-oriented trajectory, it retains much of the emotional response generated on Possible Conclusions and is all the better for it. As a result, Shannon has put together a collection of tunes that are simultaneously dark and soulful, staying true to his roots while embracing the future with a flurry of kick-ass, funk-inflected beats. "Beyond Incubation" ushers in the album like distant headlights - the flickering efx slowly solidify around a lush, bass-heavy groove that transports the exquisite chord sequence ever closer. "Mercury Mile" continues the assent with a long, beatless intro dominated by a wash of static interference and squirming synths, while the molten bass and tough, angular snare lend the groove a cool electro flavor. "Wolf Module" is raw, acid-tinged techno. The stripped-down beats and racing hi-hats thrash out a treacherous path into the unknown, accompanied all the while by a dark, growling main riff. "Enero" gradually flowers into a beautifully-structured piece of uplifting techno with softly rising pads that stimulate the head and the heart. "Love Fry" is a pivotal, stand-out moment, occupying the middle ground between the contrasting musical aspects of Shannon's work. On the one hand, there are dark, engrossing synth lines, on the other, soulful, jazz-influenced elements. "Uno Para el Sol" chills things out into the realms of deep house, as a deftly-played Rhodes drifts across a shimmering sea of percussion and soft chords. "Dr. X" continues the vibe with another deep, melodic percussion sequence that bubbles seductively under the surface before "Regalos de Pandora" let's fly with a perfectly-crafted riff that echoes out into infinity. Finally, "Closed Question" rounds off the album in style with an homage to all things Detroit. Intuitive beats, evolving arrangements, homogeneous sounds and melodies - it's all here. Memory Tree is an album of extraordinary depth and composure that will burn brightly in the techno firmament for some time to come.
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