Treee City: Good Job | ★★★★½ | Raund Haus; November 11
There are some genre traits that Durham’s Patrick Phelps-McKeown, who deejays and produces electronic music as Treee City, seems to especially like: the soft, soulful contours of deep house and the hard, threshing edges of techno, the tricky internal time of drum ‘n’ bass and the rising terraces of trance.
But the qualities that have developed in his prior EPs and singles—his fluid blend of these styles and others; his fine balance of detailed grooves, riffy bass, and expansive free expression; his big crayon box of synths and virtual instruments; and his collaborative spirit—converge into something special and complete on his first full-length album, which has a release party at the Pinhook on November 4 and comes out on Raund Haus a week later.
Though it’s filled with dance-floor heaters, Good Job is atmospheric enough to satisfy living-room dwellers too. The only thing wrong with the gorgeous, gripping, beatless opener, “In Media Res,” is its copy-editor-taunting title (stet!); it’s like one of those Burial songs that verge on musique concrète, all dark running water, moaning texture, and string-quartet bass.
On “Feel That,” a blossoming piano-house bouncer with some dubstep aerobics cinching the middle, Treee chops a line from a minor late ’90s house hit into a chanting refrain: “If you feel that you can’t take no more.” “I get up,” insists the vocal sample on the next song, “Every Day,” a molten anthem that would go well with the “Sandstorm” video. “I work hard.”
These sparing words and others lend the record its vivid emotional center of pressed but inspired resilience.
Then come the collabs: “Your Face,” with Funkleberry and Chris Martz, is gleamy R&B, like a prelapsarian James Blake or a warmer Andy Stott; “Running at the Speed of Light,” with PlayPlay, is a neon-lined night ride out of Tron. There are practically fucking guitar solos in “Home Now,” the dexterous FootRocket feature, and this is skipping over a massive, jazzy, cosmic solo production, “Moon Bounce.”
By the time you’re carving the crystalline surf of “Echo Beach,” late in the album, you realize its restless motivation isn’t going to flag. That title is literal and too modest; Treee has been putting in work.
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