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Audio CD, May 28, 2013
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 28, 2013)
  • Original Release Date: 2013
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Dial
  • ASIN: B00BWWE060
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,064 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
For his second album, FENCES, John Roberts doesn't entirely abandon the deep house of his first. Instead, he goes even more abstract, with the short, gamelan-intro of "Bleach" or the equally sparse "Braids." "Chalkdust," similarly, is carried by some altered piano keys. But fear not, he hasn't totally abandoned his house roots: the chopped string orchestra and sudden throb of "Palace" are carried by the beat, while the title track has the kick drum, though feels nothing like a traditional -- or even untraditional -- house track. But he goes beyond the 4/4, using a slow, loping beat on "Shoes" to carry along a lilting melody or a quasi-ethno-electro rhythm to buoy "Calico," which leads out on some plaintive woodwinds. "Plaster" lays it on thick, and "Blanket" seems to smother the sonics with the heavy beat, though the ringing tones still shine through. Definitely, this album is more challenging than his first, and not as immediately accessible, but it's every bit as rewarding.
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Format: MP3 Music
I really enjoyed John Robert's 2010 full length debut, Glass Eights, an album of melancholy, noir- and late night jazz-tinged deep house, so I was excited to see the release of Fences. This is often a more immediate, assertive album: tracks like "Palace," "Plaster" and "Calico" feel more club-ready, as opposed to the consummate headphones experience of Glass Eights (As a side note, "Plaster" is actually slightly reminiscent the squirmy electronica of Prefuse 73's One Word Extinguisher). However, Roberts still has the impressive attention to detail and creative use of textures that made Glass Eights a unique listen.

Fences frequently feels distinctly Asian - in its melodies, instrumentation, and utilization of silence. For example, in "Braids," the latter allows the plucked zither strings, flutes, and rushing water to ring out and fill the space, an effect that's simultaneously calming (picture yourself in a Chinese garden) and a little bit unsettling, because Roberts seems to enjoy taking ideas from traditional Asian forms of music as well as turning them on their head from time to time.

The re-contextualizing of Asian elements, like zither, flute and percussion that brings to mind Chinese opera, for dance music is not really a new idea, but Roberts keeps things enjoyably unpredictable, taking the album far beyond the stereotype of the "Asian" dance album by a westerner (say, run of the mill techno with a bit of Chinese-sounding violin thrown on top). Rather, he seems to have absorbed these elements in a more integral and genuine way.
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