Music Review: Mihai Popoviciu - Motion Manifold LP [Poker Flat Recordings]

Music sometimes, takes artists on spiral-shaped paths, some of which they encounter not once in their life but as well, reoccur as a form of renovation. They take on a road that years later transit with a new vision. This perfectly fits Mihai Popoviciu’s return to Steve Bug’s label, the renowned German imprint, Poker Flat Recordings, with his latest album: Motion Manifold. This is Popoviciu’s third album and sixth release on Poker Flat, and it marks his long-lasting relationship with the esteemed label. The Romanian bread staple has a long trajectory with releases on amazing labels like Highgrade, Dessous, Bedrock and his own label Cyclic to name a few. Nonetheless, this time around, the Sibiu-based studio wizard delivers a more mature narrative, a substantial ten-track album filled with his instantly infectious and recognizable energy and style developed throughout the years. Motion Manifold works as both individual pieces but is best read as a whole experience in itself.



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"Milky" initiates the album and takes form as slick deep tech delicacy. Perfect to warm up the soul, it sets off with a four on the floor kick groove, with a hi-hat to clap winning combo for your pleasure. Milky’s groovy bassline pushes the track in motion as the crispy claps accentuate the groove. While its progressive and filtered synth melody and distorted vocals finish it off with an enigmatic statement:¨but I don’t know ¨.




"Understand" maintains the same deep sound with a dubby minimal tech twist, atmospheric and immersive with its textures like an underwater sound excursion, whilst "Double Clap" has a more tech house heavy influence, with a demolishing bassline and sharp percussions. Sneaking up on the groove his aforementioned, double clap rhythmic figure adding his distinctive style to the tune. Popoviciu complements the drum programming with deft and classic, acid 303 synth licks. Whereas, "Going Around" is a straight forward minimal tech cut with its dubby and trippy flair. The track’s heavy bassline moves the action forward with its 4/4 kick drum pattern and sparky cymbals. Dubby chords float upon to keep things smooth and calculated.





"Apricot" takes shape as another beautiful dubby minimal house cut. The use of the retro-sounding 2000s vocal articulates something along the lines of ¨hey you,¨ which creates a dialogue with the listener. Similarly, "Sleepwalking" moves into the realm of the alluring yet surreal flair of the late-night hours, sensitively capturing its mysterious and intense essence. The loopy bassline and acid lead synth add a hypnotic feel, while the beat remains steady yet light with jazz-infused percussions and subtle snare fills that seduce the ear. 




Popoviciu then changes things up with "Later That Day" and "El Classico" which are in contrast, more uplifting cuts. These two reveal more diurnal energy, which makes them perfect tracks to be experienced in the sunshine, with their irresistible percussive arrangements and warmer tonalities. "Cosinus" sails close to Larry Heard-ish territory, with a grooving, atmospheric bassline and fizzing, emotive synth pads. Lastly, "Chrome" closes the album off with the characteristic Popoviciu deep and sharp sound that unmistakably envelops and vibrates with audiences across the globe. 





Words by Daniel Ordoñez