Album of the Day: Leech, “Data Horde”

Brian Foote’s relationship with electronic music has a tendency to take him to the fringes of the genre. Whether as part of the experimental indie ensemble Nudge, producing albums like the Zola Jesus and Maria Minerva collaboration, or his work at revered label Kranky, Foote—who reserves the Leech alias for purely electronic explorations—has proven time and again just how wide his range can be. Tusks, his 2013 debut EP on 100% Silk, was a collection of bubbling not-quite-house tracks. For this release on his own Peak Oil imprint, Foote has pulled together a scintillating array of experiments from his archives. Breaks ebb and flow throughout the album, melodic passages interlacing with percolating percussive patterns, an uplifting kaleidoscope of sound.

Data Horde, is, as the title gleefully suggests, the result of accumulation. As any artist-curator may have experienced first-hand, going through your own body of work with a fine-toothed comb can be a tricky process, since the perspective is often askew. Foote has clearly chosen well. “Brace” is an aquatic fantasy of nervous breaks and fluttering synth pads, like the darting movement of fish and the sudden ripples that causes. The boisterous “Phoenix9V” turns an ambient dream state into a vivid, acidic hallucination. In the midst of this carefully programmed hubbub, there are pensive moments of grace, such as opener “Amethyst,” a track that could have been part of The Next Great American Ambient Album. Data Horde closes anxiously with “Bit Rot,” an elegant exercise in contemporary breaks studies, a surprisingly dancefloor-ready mix of structured hardcore and experimental glitch.

Foote has a deep understanding of electronic music and the nuances of its vocabulary—all the better to challenge the rules. The resulting works are like handcrafted ceramics—familiar forms that can sport aleatory, seemingly accidental details. It’s those imperfections that make them so human, and so fascinating.

-Andra Nikolayi

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