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Keita Sano's freewheeling music has taken a bit of a trad turn in 2016. Whether making Chicago reboots for Turbocapitalism, groove tools for Unfulfillment or dark house and techno for Sheik 'n' Beik, the Okayama producer has toned down his madcap side, focussing on subtler sound palettes and linear structures. This return to San Francisco's Spring Theory label continues the trend. The Miles EP consists of loopy house tracks, each rich with live-sounding percussion and samples from jazz or African music. As with other Sano productions, it sounds like he's captured each idea and quickly moved on; a bit more attention to detail would've been welcome. But there's a quietly bizarre edge that keeps the better tracks interesting.

It's difficult to know how to respond to "Miles." The ragtag drums and twinkly piano sample suggest deep house, but the mood is dark and doomy. Then a trumpet breakdown cuts in unexpectedly: minor-key figures looped without drums for more than a minute. When Kano abruptly drops back into the same trudging beat, it's as if the whole thing never happened. "Varna" layers clattering percussion and pentatonic singing for an approximation of Afro-house. Only the layering is uncomfortably dense, and the groove is sent into jittery overdrive by a kind of beatboxing part midway through. "Blue" is cut from the same jazzy cloth as "Miles"—this time it's a forlorn saxophone taking the lead—but lacks the element of surprise. Sano's music has lots of interesting qualities, but it's the surprises that stick in the mind.

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