Woodhands (Independent)

The alter ego chosen by local producer Dan Werb suggests that his music should be knotted and awkward, but the tunes collected on this debut release are in fact smooth and assured, gliding peaceably along like so many drifting clouds. Werb spends a lot of time in the upper registers, layering graceful electric-piano runs over bubbly analogue synth tones and only occasionally paying serious mind to the bottom end. As such, Woodhands nearly falls victim to aural-wallpaper syndrome, but the composer's inventive melodies and meticulous attention to sonic de?tail rescue it from such a fate.

The easiest reference to be drawn here is to Boards of Canada, whose warm analogue tones and shapeshifting rhythms seem to have informed Werb's musical approach. But where that Scottish duo relies largely on samples for its base materials, the Vancouverite builds his tracks all by his lonesome, as evidenced by "Piano" and "Woodhands Theme Song", both of which are predicated on solo runs up and down the ivories. The best and most richly arranged song here is probably "Honest Broker", a kind of all-in-one album summation that distills the producer's brainiac lounge aesthetic into nine spellbinding minutes. If the Suicide Girls made porn movies, this would be their soundtrack.