Scientific American – Strong for the Future

Scientific American
Strong for the Future

As difficult as it is to accurately convey the sounds and curves of electronic music, there is one quality that reviews overlook when assessing laptop music: listenability. Artists like Autechre garner lavish praise – and rightly so – for their complicated and tiring computer mazes, but the fact that their music is difficult and laborious is often ignored. There is something to be said, then, for artists who can immediately immerse you in their electronic world. On his debut album for Mush records, Andy Rohrmann establishes himself as a skilled and instantly likeable producer, albeit one who is still looking for a definitive path for his bedroom ruminations.

Strong for the Future, Rohrmann’s first long-player, is an intriguing and highly fluid album that dips and nibbles in several of electronica’s most prevalent sub-genres: IDM, lap-pop, and trip-hop are just a few. Rohrmann’s main passion seems to be the warm, humming keyboards and breaking drum loops of Warp Records standard-bearers Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada. Fortunately, Rohrmann never falls into the ruts of predictability that those artists often inspire. Take, for instance, the hip-hop inspired “Between Urban Movements,” which features a lazy breakbeat and snipped vocal samples. Vocal contributions from John Atkins, lead singer of underrated Up Records popsters 764-Hero, spice up “Drift in Place,” even though accusations of Postal Service Xeroxing will be made.

Rohrmann is somewhat unique among electronic producers in that he does much of his best work with vocal samples. And although the aforementioned “Drift” is the only composition that could border on “song,” the eerie chants of the title track transform what could’ve been a cut-and-paste IDM track into a bashful hymn. The ridiculously titled “The Seas are the Skies,” perhaps the album’s most fully formed and creative piece, rides on indiscernible snatches of a female voice. “Your Utopia” is another standout, letting gentle synths oscillate through the mix while a chopped voice provides unexpected percussion.

Rohrmann’s only real fault is his constant genre hopping. While songs like “Drift” and “Urban Movements” are impressive displays of his ability as a producer, they ultimately break up the flow of an otherwise strong album. Of course, it’s important to note that the problem isn’t Rohrmann’s skill: Everything on this album, no matter the genre, is deftly arranged, interesting, and extremely listenable. At the very least, Strong for the Future should establish Rorhmann as an up-and-comer on the electronic music scene, an artist not afraid to branch out and one with the talent to do so convincingly.