Audio Mixers: Josh Wermut; Steve Spacek.
Recording information: Jacques Minglis Studio.
Steve Spacek's creative restlessness evidently cannot be quelled. After his first proper solo album, Space Shift, arrived in 2005, he released additional left-field R&B EPs, dipped deeper into avant-rap production as Black Pocket, and often worked with contemporaries, including album projects beside Katalyst (as throwback soul act Space Invadas) and Mark Pritchard (as underground club fusioneers Africa HiTech). The producer and vocalist's tracks as Beat Spacek, an alias aligned with the Ninja Tune label, are more evasive of categorization than any others he has made. Though Modern Streets was created predominantly with handheld-device apps, the tracks were inspired by the multicultural environment he encountered as a youngster clubbing in '80s London, and a fair portion of the lyrics, combined with Spacek's delivery, convey sweet, wide-eyed innocence. Within the first four tracks alone, there are elements of eerie and rigid post-punk ("I Wanna Know," "Modern Streets"), sugary synth pop ("Inflight Wave"), and jubilant highlife ("Tonight"), yet there's no apparent interest in straightforward replication of inspirations. Later on, the gentle booms and pings of "Compact n Sleep" seem to channel mid-'80s and mid-'90s slow jams at once, while "Alone in da Sun" melds dragging dub bass and a slinking rhythm like a high-quality outtake from the Curvatia sessions. The constant is the familiarity of Spacek's voice, his low whispers and high exhaltations, like he's serenading a nearby audience of one. ~ Andy Kellman