Machinedrum-Vapor City Archive


Imaginary City is brought to a close with a second album.

Last year Travis Stewart (AKA Machinedrum) released Vapor City. The album was based on an imaginary city. Each of the ten tracks represented a different part of said city. It was a tour de force and showcased Stewart as a force to be reckoned with in dance music. The album was full of his slow jungle infused R&B styled Hip-Hop. Now Stewart has returned with the last instalment in the Vapor City saga.

Generally sequels aren’t that great. For every Empire Strikes Back there are a dozen Ace Ventura 2s, and musically speaking for every Led Zeppelin II you get Use Your Illusion II. However, Vapor City Archives doesn’t feel like a re-hashing of old ideas. Each of the ten tracks (as with the original) represents a different district of Vapor City and just like its predecessor this concept of the ‘City’ works well with Stewart’s skewed take on dance music.

Opening track 'Boxoff' starts off with skittering snares, while the rest of the track slowly builds until all is as one. It’s claustrophobic and intense, but there are elements of space punctured through it. Basically, its Oxford Street at any time of the day. As the song progresses, and the different elements are faded up and down, 'Boxoff' starts to change perspective and goes into Banger territory, only for the end to mimic the start. Next track 'Safed' starts off with a hypnotic acoustic guitar riff. As it draws you in, a dreamy vocal sample slightly hides the beat that grows ever more menacing as the song builds to its logical conclusion. 'Only 1 Way 2 Know' shows off Stewart’s take on Footwork, while incorporating his ethereal vocal heavy bass style.

Stewart isn’t the first person to create an album based on an imaginary city, although his is one of the better takes one it (special mention should be given to Vangelis’ 1990 album the City, but not to Bloc Party’s A Weekend in City). What Stewart has effectively done, is create music that if you listen to while flaneuring about cities you will have the perfect soundtrack to your travels.