At a time when “electronic” music is becoming increasingly defined by glitch-centric avant-bashing and laptop-clicking audio pummelings, the debut offering from these two San Franciscan Ryans (Fitzgerald and Bishop) is a welcome breath of fresh air. Welding bubbling, skitteringly melodic blips onto organic techno pulses, Initial Public Offering is engagingly melodic, starkly reductive and thoroughly accessible stuff, comparable — if only in spirit — to Amber-era Autechre or the more muted output of Ken Ishii. Though propelled by darkly machine-like variations on themes of minimalism and repetition, Broker/Dealer trade in a rare commodity: four-to-the-floor ambient beat music that actually rewards repeated listening.
“Feel Free”, for example, is a hallmark of mature, minimal electronic sophistication, imbued with the joyously tuneful zeal of the finest Kraftwerkian techno-pop. At other times, Initial Public Offering is a soaring and emotional listen, as on the remix of The Court And Spark’s “To Hear The Fires”. Here, a ghostly piano/guitar refrain, layered with gorgeous, oozing synth washes, is peppered with haunting, echoey “ooh ooh” voice samples and decidedly ’80s-sounding drums; the result sounds almost as if Boards Of Canada had collaborated with Fischerspooner.
The sonic delights are many and varied. “Sun Struck” raids a dubby, Pole-esque sequence of bassy “mmm”s, clicky “tsk”s and barely-there “bomp”s to curiously funky effect, and the wonderfully catchy “On A Claire Day” buries intriguing, sporadic echo-splashes beneath a fluid, tripping disco melody, while the evocative “Every Other Sunday” is the kind of shimmering, hummably beat-riffic dreamscape upon which the likes of Orbital first established themselves. In fact, almost everything on here sounds as comfortably geared toward the dancefloors of discerning spazz-hovels as it does toward the headphones and stereograms of bedroom-dwelling technosseurs.
A powerfully assured, remarkably fresh debut, Initial Public Offering’s minimalist intrigue is clearly a labour of love as well as hard graft. The attention to detail, the care for textural nuance and the skillful melodic resonance all help to arm this music with impressive durability. In fact, the disc is so replay-friendly that it almost seems subtly different with each successive listen. That, of course, can only be a good thing. Highly recommended to those frazzled glitch-heads for whom a little melodic reflection would be most welcome, this is music that beautifully soundtracks those imaginary high-speed train rides through the dreamlike abandoned industrial districts of your temporal lobe.
-Allan Harrison, splendidzine.com
Broker/Dealer-INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING (2003)