Review: Daniel Jacques – Livet Efter Detta (Mistress Recordings)

Mistress Recordings, the child of Zak Khutoretsky – AKA DVS1 – is still young enough that the smell of talcum powder and baby wipes lingers in the air with each new release. Mistress, it seems, has been set up to deal with something different to his own tough yet deep take on Techno (his own music is released through his other label, Hush) and the results do tend to be more House orientated, at least in general vibe if not always execution.

Whether the five releases so far have been particularly exciting or essential is open to question; for my money they have been a fairly mixed bag. There have been some nice tunes across all the releases, some tinged with the influence of garage and deeper strains of house, others from the harder end of the spectrum, mechanical and energised. As a whole, though, It’s difficult to shake a sense that much of it feels like a House-ish take on the popular Berghain sound – polished, sleek and big, but perhaps lacking something in the rawness, the dirtiness that characterises the very best House music, that something to help the frequency push through the background hum. There is, however, much potential and it’s a potential that is finally being realised in Livet Efter Detta.

Daniel Jacques is perhaps a fairly left field choice of artist to add to the roster, especially considering he doesn’t seem to have released much of anything since 2005s Afterwords EP on Real Sessions. What there is of his work, though, is fascinatingly mixed: Salsa-house, huge tribally breakbeat and everything in between.

Where much of his past work was infectiously gleeful and bursting with energy, Livet Efter Detta is a paired down, darkened and ultimately haunting EP that moves gracefully through the half-light and weaves the various ribbons of influence into a gracefully frayed whole. What is just as impressive is the way it seems to defy both the ubiquitous grasp of current House-nostalgia and the contemporary roar of lo-fi posturing. Both the A-side tunes, in particular the sublime End Of My World certainly hark back to a style of ocean deep and sensual House you don’t hear so much of these days, but they’re worked through so thoroughly by Jacques sharpened ear that they are made fresh and lively, even as they drift along on their own insouciance.

Its the little touches that do it: the smoky, glacially cool and distant vocal snippet and the rising lead on End Of My World give it a seductive energy, but its the rattle of percussion and occasional tribal frills that give it life. Before I Begin is even more aquatic, and less in thrall to its well merited vanity. A crooked rhythm and spectral pads hold the ever deepening tone in just the right place, the sultry vocal sample simply broadening an otherwise introspective and meandering groove into something rich and insistent.

The B-side doesn’t quite match up in either mood or ambition but is not far off in terms of delights. Today We Move is fatter. Faster too. There is an element of Levon Vincent’s, tough, moody funk within it, perhaps even of recent Omar S, but it’s dubbier territory than either of them usually approach, and the mist of reverberated voices above the beats adds space and light to depths below.

Emotion Devotion hits off in a different direction entirely and puts me in mind of Patricia or others currently cooking up smudged, analogue grooves. For all the reverb and the single, threading synth, below the skin its a skeletal and indistinct spectre that depends on the pulse of the kick and the world weary blur of claps for movement and purpose. Not that it needs it, mind you – it’s a splinter of the last, departing thought before sleep arrives; barely concious but full of disconnected possibilities and the Dreamtime glimmer of something just on the edge of comprehension.