"Subtracks" took a few listens to warm up to, and I was glad to have read some reviews to mentally prepare myself for my first listen. Lately, I'm noticing a trend where innovators who took the electronic music genre far into the future, are sort of retreating back to a simpler style, using a more hand's-on approach. This was the case with the last Squarepusher, AFX and Mu-ziq full lengths, and the same is true with Massonix, who is Graham Massey of 808 State.
While 808 State always used a wide array of synths and drum machines, their production and sound got bigger, more complex and more state of the art with each release. "Subtracks" takes the classic 808 State sounds back below the surface again. I've grown to enjoy this full length greatly, but at first, some of the synths and beats came off as kind of primitive and cheezy, even. Still, there is a nice, full bass sound throughout, and a good system is highly recommended here. There are some fine, "aquatic" atmospheres going on and some bright, chirpy melodies reminiscent of early Plaid or Black Dog. Clicking, clacking and ticking drum machine rhythms and beats abound with some acid squelches thrown in for good measure. There is a playful and adventurous musicality here that only folks like Graham Massey could get from such electronic boxes and gadgetry. Check out the liner notes to see what I mean. This one might take a couple of listens to start to truly appreciate. True techno and electronic music heads should dig this if given a chance.