...Gives little thought to fleeting dancefloor fashions, grand ideas, or any of that...
Louis Pattison 2008
It's been over a decade since Phil Byrne and Bren Crowe reportedly met on a bus on the way to a Prodigy gig and bonded over their shared love for breakbeats both muscular and funky. Since, Splitloop have grown into one of the better known outfits in breaks, synthesising a tweaked, bass-heavy brand of electronic funk that gives little thought to fleeting dancefloor fashions, grand ideas, or any of that more highfalutin DJ talk about 'taking the listener on a journey'.
Compared to the duo’s last album, 2005's Here On Business, you do get the feeling Byrne and Crowe have genuine intentions to branch out a bit here. Guest vocalists are picked to give a certain colour of character: Party People, a sort of cut-and-shut of Basement Jaxx-style dancefloor flexing and upbeat hip-house, features an energetic cameo from female MC Jax (not to mention a surprisingly rawk guitar bridge); Back That Smack That, meanwhile, is a nod (and a wink) to the sordid spirit of jacking house, wobbly synths and pneumatic beats accompanied by hoarse, distorted sex talk and digitally altered female gasps from Marvel and AnnMarie McBaron.
Still, when its a toss up between songs and grooves, you know where Splitloop's loyalties lie. The fourteen songs here are mixed, giving the impression more of a seamless DJ turn than an album, and for the most part, vocals are just window-dressing for the beats, another colour in the party-starting palette: ''Bass/Treble/Bass/Treble'', announces Frequency Rebel, with a robotic certainty. The tempo, meanwhile, remains at permanently gyrating levels, save for the odd quick breather that inevitably heralds the next bass drop. And if that's all you want, that's fine: Pleasure Machine, as its name suggests, a pretty simple jolt of dancefloor fun, perfect for the party-minded breaks heads. For all their attempts to branch out and add depth, though, Splitloop don't yet have the songwriting nous to wean you off your Leftfield and Basement Jaxx albums for good.