After 2 self-released CDRs and last year’s Fox Trot Mannerisms EP, Brooklyn producer Vanese Smith has released her first full-length for the British dubstep label Tectonic. Her style is mostly pretty far from dubstep, though; it’s a bit closer to the L.A.-based Brainfeeder sound, but it’s really just something all its own. Her tracks typically feature abstract, choppy rhythms that don’t always seem like they should work, but they do. She also sings or raps over most of the tracks on this album, taking them in a different direction than if they were instrumental. “I Sink” starts out with a fast stuttering rhythm, but switches into a slightly different tempo when she starts rapping about computer technology and being concerned with online privacy. “Peace Talks” combines a swishy downtempo IDM beat with dusky R&B vocals and throbbing bass. Opener “Revolutionaries” is a call for change with a funky assembly-line beat. A few other tracks feel like they’re built from looped oblong shards of disco records. All the off-time trickery would probably leave your average dancefloor confused, but there’s still such an insistent groove that ties it all together. You’ll figure it out if you’re smart.
Ultimately, Frantically Hopeful is the perfect title for this album, because as abstract and obtuse as the music might seem, the lyrics and mindset are overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been digging the hell out of both this album and Fox Trot Mannerisms lately, and I think what Pursuit Grooves is doing right now is incredibly unique and more than a little bit under-recognized.