During a press stop around their August appearance at Holland’s Lowland Festival, Toronto production-duo-cum-quartet Azari & III did something you don’t often see from electronic artists: they performed their biggest dancefloor dazzler, “Reckless (With Your Love)” unplugged, with just an acoustic guitar and some bongos and shakers. Rather than betray any suppressed folkie affinities, the gesture underscored the crew’s ground-up approach to songcraft and preference for organic materials, building their warehouse anthems around lead singer Starving Yet Full’s siren of a voice and pointed lyrical invectives. But Azari & III’s graduation to an albums act showcases their strengths as arrangers even in the absence of sing-along hooks: electro-fied instrumental “Tunnel Vision” betrays its cheeky personality through spidery synth oscillations, while acid-house flashback “Indigo” warps Starving’s voice into hallucinatory, wordless wails that provide vicarious access to naked-on-a-beach-in-Ibiza abandon. Such moments of exhilaration are in scarcer supply on the album’s more chilled second half, but with its deft balance of rhythm, melody and abstraction, Azari & III has you sorted whether your ideal Saturday night amounts to a loft-party rager or a date with your headphones on the bean-bag chair.
Playlist picks: “Reckless (With Your Love),” “Indigo,” “Manic”