Contact is an album of dance music that ma be more suited for a physics lab than it is for a club. The satellite cover photo for Contact is evocative of the Carl Sagan novel of the same name, and the cerebral and grounded sci-fi novel seems like it would be the perfect reading companion for the cerebral and grounded music that The-Drum make. “Heat” opens with the sound of a spaceship’s computers booting up, and with it we have our first glimpse at what The-Drum intend for Contact: this is an album of retro-futuristic electronic music blended with found sounds that feel everyday and natural. This is an album that turns the organic and the ordinary into something mesmerizing and vague, but one that retains the accessibility of its apparent source material.
A lot of the songs on Contact begin with very striking samples, such as the vibrated glasswork of “Narco” or the calyptic percussion mirages of “Sirens.” Things become epic and explosive on “Arcadia,” which has an almost mythical feel to it with large, melodically concise synth parts that act as though to soundtrack a hero’s return to a castle. Delayed and disintegrated human voices are peppered throughout the piece, following effected finger snaps on a journey across synth horns and bottle noises. The approach sounds at one end to be very terrestrial and available, but the detailed kinetic production gives some much needed air to the tracks.
There are definitely moments on Contact where you’re not sure if what you’re listening to couldn’t have been written by some other electronic dance group; a song like “Switch” is hardly a revelation of dance composition. That said, there are few who could make these songs – whatever they may be – sound this damn interesting. This may be dance music’s most fulfilling headphone album; it’s something very large and substantial presented through a lens of minute introspection. It lets you crawl into the space of the sounds and examine them up close, but you absolutely have to want it, too.