Monday, March 08, 2004

Reviewed for

Having recorded for labels du jour Perlon and Playhouse, Soulphiction (aka Jackmate, Michael Baumann) brings a 5 track EP to Germany’s Freude Am Tanzen imprint. Though much is being made of the minimal sounds emanating from Deutschland, this is on the deep and jazzy tip in the vein of Theo Parrish or Moodymann. The standout track is White Ropes featuring the blues-inspired vocals of Ben Harper. The tune is an otherwise understated affair, clocking it at around 122 bpm with mid-tuned tom percussion and a simple but effective synth arrangement. It’s not doing too much in the background, allowing for the vocals to do their trick, and it works like a charm. Black Woman is some spoken word over a lagging beat with a dark and choppy synth bass, gradually adding the hats and some other percussive effects. Whats Your Name starts with a off kilter, dusty horn sample and gradually brings in the kick, as more and more crate-dug jazz samples fill in the spaces, building with some warm synth in the background. Towards the middle, the din of the samples fall out, leaving a rich, bubbling groove with a super-filtered synth that sounds like it was dropped down the stairs into the pool. I love it, due to the fact that the track started rather predictably and went in a direction that caught me completely off guard. Fantastic.

Generations 12’
Freerange records

With this release, Tom Szirtes aka Shur-I-Kan illustrates the increasing cross-genre might of Freerange Records. His original broken beat version of Generations on the 12 is undoubtedly my pick—there’s an unbelievably high amount of detail buried within the fluid, expressive drum programming. On first listen, pitch the tune down significantly to see what I mean, as when played at proper speed, it’s a lot to take in at once. Tinny snare snaps, random hi-hats and complex yet uncluttered percussion build into a wash of ambient tones that then lead into a lovely nu-soulish vocal part. Muffled trumpets, flutes and other horns float in and out of the mix and just when you thought the vocals were the highlight, a light funk keyboard line comes in and steals the show for a moment. Jimpster’s house mix takes a basic kick snare pattern and pulls the synth funk bassline from the original, putting it way out in the front of the track—excellent for a bottom heavy system. He retains the hi-hat arrangement, some of the percussion and light keys from the original. The Unabombers mix is more of a peak time tune, cribbing small edits and samples from the vocal line, adding a few male vocal bits and a new bassline with a razor sharp midrange synth. It’s got the most locked and focused groove of all the mixes, building and building in tension. I was expecting a drop of some sort—nothing came, so this might be a good building block to bring things elsewhere. All in all, its two dead solid mixes, and one shining star. A must listen for fans of broken soul.