Hashman Deejay's Future Times debut, Tangerine, was something of an overlooked gem - an exotic, melodious gem that pinned Tangerine Dream style electronics to a restless techno groove. This surprise debut album has a similarly dreamy feel, even if the techno side of his output has been tamed a little. Instead, we get a range of eyes-wide-shut compositions that variously touch on Mood Hut style deep house ("Mercury"), ultra-deep electronica (the odd beats, spacey noises and relentless chords of "Mozaic"), swinging, Max D style drum workouts (the rich bass, dubbed-out synths and loose house grooves of "184"), trip-hop style downtempo beats "Statues PF"), and thrillingly loose, new age house anthems ("Xssential-3").
Given their role in shaping the sound of Washington DC's Future Times label at the tail end of the last decade, it's arguably about time that Protect-U - aka FT co-owner Mike Petillo and pal Aaron Leitko - delivered their debut album. For those familiar with Future Times' kaleidoscopic fusions of analogue drum machine rhythms, vibrant synthesizers and new age melodies, Free USA will make exciting listening. It's as vivacious as you'd expect, joining the dots between the hissing, dreamy, scattergun explorations of Maxmillion Dunbar, the intense dancefloor fuzziness of the L.I.E.S. label, and the intoxicating fluidity of Vancouver's Mood Hut crew. In other words, it's a joy to listen to, flitting between jacking dancefloor electronica and hazy ambient bliss.