Since the era that brought us M83, Metrik, Phantogram and the like, dreamy IDM has sort of petered out a bit as a genre. The late 00s were rife with it, with too many electronic-infused indie bands and indie-infused electronic artists to mention. A return to heavier, bass-laden EDM electronica seems to have dominated the 2010s, but this year some new acts have emerged, creating a different kind of hybrid. Enter: Reflexson with the debut EP It’s Broken.
In this Houston project, crafted by producer and 226 Recordings owner Paul Cox pairs IDM-style synths and ambient waves with recognizable EDM beats. The indie vibe comes in via ambient flourishes, slower tempos and old school vocals. There’s even a guitar or two. It makes for an exciting mélange or sounds, and certainly keeps the listener on their toes. The opening track on It’s Broken, “Shattered,” has a number of indie points, like an analog drum kit and a sort of Hawaiian-sounding guitar flourish. The synths are also quite experimental sounding.
Shift to “Disconnected,” however, and it’s a very clear breakbeat which opens and carries the song. Here there are elements of Kraftwerk-like vocals mixes with synths that sound like guitars, giving the track a Ratatat-like feel. “Disconnected” also has a couple of breaks that go into dubstep as a beat structure. This track could be used in literally any type of set under the sun – electronic or not – and it would work. It’s a definite highlight of the EP. “Knocktover” meanwhile goes almost fully experimental dream pop and “Hammered Down” is more on-the-nose IDM. The album closes with the highly complex “Frame Break,” which is an apt title because Cox seems to be out to break every beat frame or structure he can get a hold of. It’s still a beautiful song, however, and although quite experimental it has a followable dubstep beat and is a great way to close the EP.
It’s a good thing that It’s Broken only has five tracks, because there’s a lot to digest here. Cox as Reflexson pulls no punches with his unique brand of indie IDM, forcing the listeners to pay attention and thus bringing home the “intelligent” in IDM. That said, these tracks are still danceable and fun and could easily work as mix-ins in an EDM set. Cox has covered the spread here and utilized all his experience in the dance music scene to churn out a great debut.