Album of the Week: E.R.P – Exomoon

Gerard Hanson had a prolific decade the last time around. A string of EPs and a couple of LPs under a couple of aliases had made the artist synonymous with the revival of an early Detroit electronic aesthetic, even as his own releases were setting the tone for the future. Active in music since the mid nineties, Hanson had enjoyed an immense flurry of creativity in the last ten years in the perspective of his earlier years, punctuated by Ancient Light (Hubble Telescope series Vol.II),  2845 (Convextion) and the highly anticipated and critically received LP, Afterimage. These records and the ones that bookended them, and their reserved release schedule, had made E.R.P’s music a constant fixture in the last decade, always leaving you wanting more a with a new record, never it seems to far away.

Exomoon arrived as if to punctuate the end of the decade with an E.R.P! After the success of “Afterimage” on his own Forgotten Future imprint, the year before, E.R.P closed the period with a sophomore LP, installing the artist as the flag-bearer for the future sounds of that Detroit Electro sound, while heading into the next decade. Exomoon doesn’t necessarily advance the sound of the artist, but merely delivers on a formula that he has mastered through records for the likes of Frustrated Funk and Harbour City Sorrow. If anything,”Exomoon” errs on the darker side of the genre, as E.R.P plays in menacing textures, travelling on the sine wave of brooding Moog bass lines.

Where Electro has always struggled with finding a balance between the DJ’s needs and song structure, Hanson has found a distinctive place within the genre, where he continues to infuse the music with a melodic approach, but retains the functionality that’s required from the dance floor. Exomoon drifts even further to the latter with tracks like “Searchlight”, “Lost Colony” and “Blockade” giving the sub-bass speakers a proper workout. Hanson becomes a denizen of a nocturnal subterranean habitat through Exomoon, as his focus strains on the rhythm section with marauding drum machines and menacing bass-lines capitulating the electro genre to the modern dance floor.

When Hanson gets pensive like on “Light of S.A.M” or “Ice Mine” glimmers of “Ancient Light” shine through with lush harmonies and captivating frosty melodies displacing the insistence of the beat. It provides a little space and depth to an otherwise stark and functional record intended for DJ record bags. While “Afterimage” showcased E.R.P’s more experimental aptitude, this is a record that favours the simple pleasures of the electro genre as dance music.  It’s a record that cements the decade for Hanson and E.R.P, but also facilitates a more effective gateway to the dance floor for the Electro genre for the future.