#3 Invisible Halo
Protect-u / Motorbike
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Protect-U is the studio project of Mike Petillo and Aaron Leitko, who are among the new breed of dance music producers based in and around Washington, DC. Coming from a similar background as Ital, Innergaze and Beautiful Swimmers, the duo has played alongside Mi Ami, Blues Control, Slava, Steve Moore and Pissed Jeans, among others. Petillo is also co-owner of the very cool Future Times record label, alongside Andrew Field-Pickering a.k.a. Maxmillion Dunbar (one half of Beautiful Swimmers). Protect-U’s bottom-up take on dance music grew out of sessions jamming on analog gear that got serious, resulting in a brittle yet soft and exuberant house music, thoughtfully paired down to the fundamentals and kissed by sunshine and good times. Their first two EPs on Future Times have attracted lots of the right kind of attention, and this three-tracker follows in the same trajectory. “Motorbike” starts with a bassline that reminds one of early, Jellybean-era Madonna, before the track is all but buried in woozy, psychedelic strings that seem to physically bend and vibrate around the rhythm. “Lawndog” is a tougher beast with tight, syncopated, tropical rhythms underpinning light and breezy synths borrowed from Dare-era Human League. Closer “Invisible Halo” is hazier and slower, bumping along in a drowsy fashion, like a slow accompaniment to the sunrise that follows the night before.