Free USA is the first full-length album by Protect-U, the Washington, DC-based duo of Aaron Leitko and Future Times Records co-founder Mike Petillo.The record was written, recorded, and mixed throughout 2013 at Protect-U's home studio and mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering. The tracks on Free USA were jammed into being and then laser-cut into exact shapes. On their two Future Times EPs - Double Rainbow and World Music - Leitko and Petillo poured layers of ambient drift onto nearly-steady house foundations, creating long and propulsive zone-outs. On Free USA, Protect-U doesn't depart from this sound as much as they launch further and further out with it, specifically in the rhythm section, which pivots and lurches into unexpected places throughout the LP. Melodically, automation and humanity combine with dizzying, psychedelic grace, making the sound design sparkle with cool precision. From the bright, super-soaked opening track "Needs" to the boxed-in drum clunk and iced-out coda of "Down the Tubes," Free USA showcases Protect-U's constantly mutating strand of electronic music.
Formed in 2009, Protect-U has released music on Future Times, Planet Mu, Vibrations, No Pain in Pop, and done remixes for Awesome Tapes From Africa, Meakusma, and Public Possession. In 2013, they were invited to collaborate with Maxmillion Dunbar and Peaking Lights at Red Bull Music Academy’s "Pass the Gates: NYC in Dub" event.