Stripped reveals a veritable jungle of masterful mastodonian beat madness of a type not seen in electronic circles for decades. At once gleefully and respectfully signifying the engaging 90s era of IDM while simultaneously pointing into a far more cybernetic aural future, Stripped is hardly that; it’s somewhat more ‘streamlined’ than Le Mar’s early works, but that hardly diminishes its brilliant, complex, and magnetic sound design, where the listener’s attention is so engaged one must literally react to the rhythm. Le Mar’s rep amongst the post-dance glitterati is long secure, yet one can’t ignore the fact that there’s a reason he’s so admired despite a mere handful of recordings over the past 25+ years. Whether solo or under the guise of Saafi Brothers, Le Mar has the uncanny ability to turn a series of percussive skeins into one immersive harmonic convergence, deftly lacing up an assortment of melodic/rhythmic fragments into energizing knots of dubwise shift and burning techno chrome. Pulse becomes central to Stripped’s molten core; synths unleash both whooshing arpeggios as well as great yawning chasms of sound that nearly swallow the hurtling beats. Le Mar manages to balance the power struggle between stasis and momentum so the end result becomes even more stimulating to the inner ear. Stripped might well be one of the more disingenuously-titled albums in electronica. The descriptor is easily betrayed by Le Mar’s characteristic liquid squelch, digital snap and pop, and the sheer miasmic surface tension of the entire enterprise. And the better we listeners are for it.
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