Once upon a time, there was a style known as "drill 'n' bass," a rotor-rattling, rivet-busting take on jungle that shook up breakbeat science like a bag full of marbles. By extension, we might call the music that Germany's Frederic Robinson makes "quill 'n' bass," given its feathery beats and delicately filigreed melodies, colored as richly as an illuminated manuscript.
The 21-year-old producer's hyperkinetic sense of motion bears some relation to Squarepusher's insanely detailed cut-ups, but Robinson has none of the latter's manic edge or tongue-in-cheek antics; in mood and instrumentation, he comes closer to Four Tet circa Rounds, weaving a porous lattice of chimes, mallets, and agate-colored keyboards over beats that spatter like drops of water in an oiled pan. More than almost any of his peers, however, Robinson brings the complexity of classical music and jazz — intricate counterpoints and polyrhyhms, chord changes that break free from the confines of the grid — to competitions crafted entirely with MIDI and mouse clicks.
Listen to "Static Float" below; the album Mixed Signals is out October 14 on Blu Mar Ten Music.