Three years after the formidable Glass Eights
John Roberts returns with another stunner for Dial, this time utilizing his travel mag day job to wrangle a wealth of field recordings from locales far and wide while still making a record that seems like a tiny universe of its own. Though built on bubbling synths, plucking strings and the stuttering of beats perched on stilts, the album also snips subtle and organic bits of Roberts' travelogue; recordings of waves on a beach in Cannes, a parade in Tokyo, synthesizers in Berlin, tourists in Versailles and a cedar soaking tub overflowing in Kyoto are among the pieces that make up the puzzle on Fences
. The results are a little less overtly dreamlike than the preceding album, a touch less antiseptic and certainly less inclined towards the dancefloor. Not to imply that there aren't plenty of beats here, but the record skews even heavier into Roberts' composer territory. They feel like soundtracks evoking a more real and tangible space even when the inorganic elements are at their heaviest. The tracks are fraught with tension, emotion and a sense of pacing that sweeps them along in such a way that they wouldn't be out of place behind flickering images on screen. Fences
proves that Roberts still has the meticulously crafted magic in his sway that brought him to our attention and he means to keep it that way.
John Roberts - Shoes
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