Jamma’s Basement by Huxley & Sam Russo – Leftroom Limited
What’s better than getting two of the UK’s hottest producers lending a track each to a new EP? Getting them into the studio together and teaming them up. While Sam Russo and Huxley have been causing sizeable waves of their own with recent work on Air London and Leftroom, and Hypercolour and 20:20 Vision respectively, it’s refreshing to see a collaboration being approached with such gusto, so take a bow Matt Tolfrey, for bringing their combined talents to his evergreen Leftroom imprint.
Jamma’s Basement’s combination of punchy percussion and airy chords finds both men on their teasing best form, teeing up an insistent b-line that pokes the listener in the ribs while there’s deft interplay between chords, fills and vocal intermissions. It’s a track that has the effortless feel of simplicity, but it’s the details that make it, whether it’s the subtle changes in percs, or the careful balance between melody and bump. Williams Trainers takes the shuffle even closer to garage, the swinging bassline and clumps of snares giving it an audible motion, ducking left and right, with daubs of notes adding colours to the picture, making it easy to hear just what fun these two clearly have in the studio. Brilliant.
On & On by Shenoda – Hypercolour
Laurie Shenoda’s a producer that’s blossomed since early work on Hypercolour and Fresh Meat alerted him to scribes and clubbers alike. While he’s not shared the output of some of the scene’s more prodigious producers (and lord knows workrate isn’t an award in itself), that’s not to diminish the quality of his studio work, and he returns to the label that gave him an early break with his True EP back in 2007. Hypercolour’s polymath approach to electronic music means that it’s never falling into a rut, and the On & On EP catches one of the label’s extended family at his attention-grabbing best.
Always centering his diverse talents firmly around the groove, Shenoda’s opening track takes some time to build up a head of steam, but On and On’s power lies in its burgeoning inertia, the sub barely above a growl while disembodied vocals slide over rumbling percs, shimmering hats and a flickering synth, leading into an unrelenting march towards its conclusion. The Question is more abstract, with cascading stabs challenging the delayed, looped vox to a duel, with both ultimately beaten to the punch by metallic notes, a flurry of nervous energy underpinned by solid low-end foundations. Chasing Clouds is the standout, its moody melody forming the track’s unchanging centrepiece while breathy vocals fade in and out, filters chop and change, and sonics melt and reform. Who We Are’s closer is classic Shenoda: a low-end groove that allows the distinctive vox and stabs to do the work while the percussion provides the kick.
Exhibit A by Anthony Collins – Natural History
Not content with spraying his prodigious studio talents across every label from Freak ‘n’ Chic and Infant to Liebe Detail and Mule, Parisian Anthony Collins has also found time to create not one but two labels to showcase his kaleidoscopic house skills. While he’s not taking his live show on the road to the likes of Panorama Bar, DC10, Watergate and Fabric, his Scissor & Thread imprint now has a baby brother – Natural History – and for its first release Collins has gone deep, roping in New York artist Jordan Lieb to lend her sultry vocals to his unendingly warm productions on a sterling debut EP.
Leopard opens proceedings with light chords and supple keys, allowing each element to slowly make its presence felt, the vocal first flitting in and out, before its full press, steeped in fx, making as much part of the layered melodies as it is a accompaniment to them. Collins’ real beauty is the musicality of his work, with each facet working so beautifully together to form a satisfying whole. Alongside a Dub of Leopard is Ransom, a slow-burner that waits until third distance to let the low-end groove take control, a slippy hat combination providing a groove all of its own. Cooper completes the EP with washy pads, guitar licks and head-nodding b-line that, like its partners, are in no rush to reach their destination, preferring to lay back and enjoy the journey. Sublime.