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Metro Area, ‘Metro Area’ (Environ)

Dance music in America was recently demoted from the next big thing that never happened to the hottest sound since the Bon Jovi power ballad. Many producers suffered a bad case of whiplash from this sudden shift in trends, but Metro Area’s Darshan Jesrani and Morgan Geist prove their mettle with a distinct debut album that outshines most of their scrambling contemporaries.

The Brooklyn-based duo forsake the ubiquitous electro and deathly boring nu-jazz stampede for a skeletal-sounding, post disco-funk fusion. Taking inspiration from West End Records-style early 80’s garage, they recombine the past twenty years of groove music, and filter it through a minimalist, pared-down techno perspective. The result is an instinctively slinky, danceable sound that’s slower than most contemporary dance music, which makes the Metro Area aesthetic perfectly compatible with classic UK and American house and techno. The warm, sinewy melodies and beats range from the take-me-higher optimism of early Chicago house with tracks like “Miura” and “Pina,” to a more assertive, cubic funk on “Atmospherique” and “Orange Alert.” Dance music may no longer be as radical as the latest Mandy Patinkin ballad, but at least with producers like Metro Area, people are still listening.