Let It Be EP – Burnski – One Records
It’s a well-trodden cliche of modern dance music that talks of ‘classic house with a contemporary twist’ or ‘future retro’, anachronistic muddles of words where it would require more effort to actually listen and describe. It’s not always lazily-penned hot air though, and while there’s a distinct chaff to sort through, Birmingham’s One Records has managed to keep its roots proudly on its sleeve while enlisting a clutch of producers alongside founders Subb-an and Adam Shelton to put its own interpretation on the house music of the early and see it into 2012 as one of the UK’s freshest labels. Joining alumni Jordan Peak, Buckley, Hector and Kris Wadsworth is Burnski, bringing his own groove to the label’s 15th release.
Rotating around a simple walking bassline are piano chords, mid-range rasps and a sultry vocal from Beckford, Let It Be eschews gloss and bluster and heads down the path of the simplest and most effective, pared down to its beautiful essentials. Having already worked on previous work with Subb-an, the vocalist is part of One’s extended family, and his skills are on show here at their syrupy best. Contrasting this, not in groove but in focus, is Feeling, a more energetic and nervy houser that plays on shuffling percs and fills alongside delayed vox and off-centre chords, building pressure in a relentless eight-minute trip. Adam Shelton is on remix duties with his take on Feeling, mimicking the low-end as the track’s centre, while adding vocals, pads and spooky chords, giving a different angle that loses nothing of the original’s drive.
Poems EP by Deepgroove – Four:Twenty
Bristolian duo Deepgroove have been pressing the rave button since the early 00s, giving some of the area’s parties a very bad name, and themselves a thoroughly disreputable one. But while saying that Grayson Shipley and Lee Pattison have mellowed in the intervening years may be a little overambitious, their music has certainly developed some way beyond mere dancefloor destruction, with four-four excursions on OFF Recordings, Gruuv and Suara in the last year, and their appearance on Four:Twenty marks the imprint’s return from sabbatical with a superb cut of house that reinforces their name perfectly.
Poems plays on bright percs and murmuring vox, building an air of mystery as wandering notes and disembodied words usher in the throbbing bassline that bubbles under the length of the track like a malevolent force that lurks just out of vision. Subtle sonic touches and delayed spoken snippets punctuate proceedings, as an eastern-influenced pipe meanders through the breakdown as the track disappears in reverb and delay, only to punch back in fizzing with released energy. Two superb remixes compliment the original, with Glimpse’s dubby workout giving it a roomier, spacey, vibe that’s heavy on percs and metallic hits, while Ulterior Motives’ Deep Rub evokes the original’s warmth, adding a reverberating chord of its own to take the melody on another tangent. Excellent.
Travlin EP by Norm Talley – Landed Records
Jon Reynolds’ Landed Records has taken its time to build momentum, steering clear of the traps of many new labels predictable avalanche of releases, and instead drip-fed out a quartet of accomplished EPs from the likes of Terry, Moodymanc and Zumo, and it’s following on from Moodymanc’s sublime Father EP that Norm Talley brings some Detroit flavour to the London imprint. With twenty-five years of music behind him, the former West 6 Mile Detroit man has a rich pedigree and his Travlin EP is a trio of warm, inviting housers that prove the Motor City’s almost bottomless talent pool is still brimming.
The title track’s crisp snare sails over a repeating low-end note, simmering until the sax wanders into the foreground, lending a beautiful, freeform feel to the track as it floats like a cloud over the fills and drops. It’s a devastatingly simple premise, executed with style and the minimum of fuss, distilling decades of musical know-how into seven minutes of sublime house music. ION’s melody is similarly centre stage, a series of rising and falling chords played off against staccato snare hits and faint pads, an exercise in form and structure, never losing sight of the groove. Closing out the excellent EP is Analog Dreams, which plumps for 909 drum patterns and slow-burning lead, wobbling sub and scuzzy vox, as its insistent melody drags the listener in.www.facebook.com/LANDEDRecords