Strategy is an expected full-length follow-up to Strategy’s (aka Paul Dickow) 2007 Future Rock. Not expected as in a boring or uneventful way, but expected as in you knew something great was next. Directly following The Fixer 12″ for Endless Flight and the Boxy Music EP for 100% Silk, two short releases that let Dickow explore his outright dance and electronic interests, Strategy is the most well-rounded and forward-thinking release from Dickow yet.
“Sugar Drop” opens the album with darkly sweet fervor, mixing a kraut-informed libido. After an initial staging of the scene, Dickow drops in a funky rhythm and synth melody that feels like Arthur Russel covering Can’s “Spoon” or “I Want More.” The song perfects the aural middle between both 2004′s modular dub (classic) Drumsolo’s Delight and 2007′s surprisingly danceable Future Rock.
“Objects of Desire” reels in the spectacle back to a bedroom electronic vibe, with a percussion track that even momentarily resembles mum at their most formidable. Almost like Polyfusia-era Seefeel, beauty through synthetics and dubbed, bass-heavy rhythm is framed only slight touches of vocals. “Baby Fever,” one of the strongest tracks with vocals here, ends the first side with Dickow at his most lyrically aloof. The tongue-in-cheek lyrics add to the goofy aesthetic, mixing a party anthem chant (“Baby fever, everybody’s got it.”) with silly, or semi-serious comment (“We fill our house with fuzzy proxies/but it’s not quite the same/they never grow up/ they never leave the nest.”). Dickow delivers vocals in the Bernard Sumner school of singing, with enthusiasm and sincerity making up for musical ability. The tune builds in an elevating spiral before dissolving into the side’s end, perfectly setting the stage for the flip.
B-side opener “Friends and Machines,” takes the vibe and melody from “Baby Fever,” extending the motif into a nearly eight-minute jam of jazzy funk and disco. The sonic palette of various percussion, simple-yet-groovy guitar, various keyboards, and horns creates a understated sonic portrait with expressive strokes. It’s an extended groove of mutant funk perfection.
Album closers “Saturn’s Day” and “Dilemmas” layer the psych grooves and spacious vibes for a fitting comedown from the album’s sugary buildup. The final track in particular resembles Tarantel-offshoot The Alps in a straight-up, spaced-out jam. Fuzzy sheets of static layer the paced raga like the bright sunrise after a 4am blowout.
This LP also comes as the first release in the Peak Oil discography, a sure sign of great things to come from the new label.