There are plenty of familiar elements on this album. Artists like Burial and Scuba spring to mind. Perhaps that’s an unfair comparison, however, because Machinedrum is some way behind the two aforementioned producers. Technically speaking, all the ingredients are the same – dubby kicks, sinister tone and R&B vocals – yet the end result just isn’t as appetising. It takes a certain level of skill to apply those vocals to songs and still have them sound reputable. Burial can pull it off but Machinedrum can’t quite manage it without sounding cheesy. It’s a shame because a lot of the tracks on Room(s) have a good solid foundation but the vocals render them unlistenable. Track three, ‘Sacred Frequency’ (which headed up the focused EP of the same name a few months back), is a perfect example of Machinedrum’s potential; the lack of vocals on this tune make it the best one on the album.
Despite trailing in the shadow of some fairly groundbreaking albums in this field, there is still some freshness to Room(s). No one’s saying that Stewart has developed a new sound but, considering the levels of genre-melding occurring these days, he’s still managed to create a distinct enough form.
Short of one or two interesting tracks, Room(s) offers little by way of listenability. Stewart simply has the same problem as Jimmy Edgar: anyone familiar with Edgar will be aware of the contrast between his truly impressive songs and the woeful vocals he chooses to molest them with. If you happen to like Edgar in spite of this pitfall, then perhaps Room(s) is something to look in to. Otherwise it’s best to avoid it.