The pretentious Lonely Planet travel writer in me would like to describe San Fransisco as ‘a city of contrasts’ where the rolling, vine clad hills of northern California meet the empty expanse of the pacific ocean, where lazy summer days of blue skies and cool breezes become shrouded by ice cold fogs as dense as a Lonely Planet writers metaphors and analogies. The problem is, there are no cities of contrasts, not really: there are cities of contradictions, of crazed schizophrenic confusion, and flip flopping civic madness. Not contrasts, though. We should save that word for Water Colour challenge.
Bay area resident Austin Cesear, like wise, would appear to be a man of contradictions. His debut release, Cruise Forever, appeared on Public Information in late 2012 and laudably took a harder road by avoiding the usual 2 track first time 12 inch, instead releasing a full album that was so polished it was hard to believe he was new to the scene. Across it’s 10 tracks were lessons in the creation of the sort of occasionally drifting, occasionally pounding electronica tunes that have been rising like tiny mammals from between the rotting ribs of various Techno dinosaurs. And Techno it was, albeit of a downbeat, scuzzy, playful sort, but it was the sort of record that would never had worked on one of the big, traditional Techno labels but, amongst the artiness and experimentalism of hungry hustlers like Public Information, Opal tapes, or – as here – Proibito, it fit right in.
The existence of There’s A Crack In Everything was revealed to the world following a little bit of an oops-a-daisy moment at Little White Earbuds when they posted a review on their site months before the release. You can’t really blame them, though: If I’d had a copy in advance, I’d have wanted the world to know and embargoes be damned.
Anthony Naples’s Proibito label hasn’t been around very long. It’s not quite a year since the release of their first record, but in it’s short life it has already become something of real interest. It has skirted the edge of what Ben UFO christened Outsider House (and, indeed, Outsider Techno) and although Naples himself is no fan of the term it does serve to highlight the faded tones and dusty percussion patterns that crop up here, on Cesear’s new 12 inch. A recent review on Juno claimed that it was more dance-floor orientated than Cruise Forever – a not entirely justified claim, in my opinion, as the album contained three or four proper movers that could have done a lot of damage if played at the right time of night.
In fact, aside from Cesear moving towards a more House-y feeling here, his methods and madness remain more or less unchanged. The opener, Yep, is so hazy and indistinct it could be the memory of a nights music replayed internally and repeatedly during the walk home on a cold, clear morning. There’s almost nothing to it: a looping brass sample comes and goes in the mix, coaxing out a distant echo of hi-hats and what might be a vocal clip, or maybe a 303, from the shadows. It’s skeletal, and totally hypnotic.
It’s followed by Slink, which appears at first to be cut from similar cloth. A piano sample rolls along, picking up the occasional thump of a sleepy kick drum and the slightest of hi-hats along the way along the way, before a bass line picks up the slack and carries the tune to it’s sudden termination, leaving you searching for more in the whisper of the needle against the empty vinyl. It feels nothing so much like a breakdown in search of a tune, which sounds like I’m trying to do it a disservice when I’m not. In fact, it energizes you even as it departs before answering it’s own call. It is very much of the same school as Anthony Naples’s own recent sample heavy and joyous music.
It’s on the B-side, though, that everything comes together and proves that Naples ear for talent is, if anything, getting stronger. Cesear and Naples are peas in a pod. One Year brings the same bag of tricks we found on the A-side, but adds a spine and a proper groove to build a House tune so laid back it’s staring up at the clouds. A snippet of vocal, some toms and a guiding bass lift the tune up into the sunrise, as the brass carries us back down again, only for it to roll us back around. Certain DJs out there are going to be playing this a lot, and they damn well should be. This is proper House music. It’s not Deep House, nor Progressive or any of the dozens of other sobriquets that essentially describe the same thing, it’s just House music, beautiful, dreamy, life affirming House music.
It seems almost indecent that Cesear can already be releasing such memorable music on this, only his second release. With another release on Public Information scheduled for some point in the (hopefully) near future, we might get a better idea of where he is coming from and where he is going. We know where he is right now, though: right where he ought to be. More of this please Austin, and as soon as possible, unless we wake up and have to listen to Drumcell.
And nobody wants that.