Review: Brett Naucke – The Mansion (Spectrum Spools, Mar 9)

Chicago-based experimental electronic musician Brett Naucke is an artist who clearly loves his craft. Even passive listens of the various albums he’s released over the past eight years will reveal an attention to detail that can only come from an individual who is truly passionate about what they make. This couldn’t be more evident on his newest LP, The Mansion, which is probably Naucke’s most ambitious release yet. It explores a wide variety of unique textures amidst his usual palette of lush electronics, every sound meticulously placed within an almost disarmingly physical space. This is aided by some of the best production I’ve heard this year. The panning is jaw-dropping; clips of field recordings, bizarre glitches, and impossibly well-crafted concrète collages shoot in from various angles, somehow never obscuring each other in the mix. I wouldn’t say that The Mansion is necessarily playful or light-hearted as a whole, but it’s undeniably fun to listen to, rivaling some of my most treasured “headphone albums” in that regard. And, somehow, atop all of this density is a bewildering melodic sensibility, one that gives each of the songs a remarkable staying power and subtly bolstering the impact of each element. It all seems like a recipe for an overstuffed mess, but believe me when I say that The Mansion is some of the best-developed music I’ve heard in 2018 thus far, and cements Naucke as an exciting new artist in the equally exciting contemporary avant-garde climate.

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