Review: OB Ignitt – I’m Here Now The Arrival (OBONIT Records)

Although Detroit Producer Omar Harper – AKA OB Ignitt – has been making music for over twenty years, it’s only in the last few that he has moved into Dance. His previous genres – spanning Hip Hop, Gospel, Jazz and others – share many of the same genetic markers as House and Techno so it’s no real surprise that his electronic oeuvre is richly textured with soulful colours and touches. His debut, the Oh Jabba Ep, which was released on fellow Detroit Alumnus Omar S’s FXHE label, marked his entry into Techno-land with a record that was deep yet playful, the lead track being a stomping piece of Motor-city music from that place where House and Techno collide whilst being influenced as much by soul and funk as it was by anyone from his city’s more recent History.

For the slightly grandiosely titled I’m Here Now the Arrival, Ignitt has ventured out on his own with a new label, OBONIT Records – an endeavour that, in terms of both artwork and sound, wears the influence of his former boss at FXHE proudly. This is not to suggest that either the music or the label are slavishly following too closely in the footsteps of Omar S; Ignitt is too savvy for that to be the extent of his ambition. Aside from anything else, there is a drive to the music that is different, and a choice of direction that shouldn’t be surprising but actually kind of is.

The brilliantly named Sweaty Dance Floor is a deep and lithe groove that is more than a nod to disco and funk. On a first – and second – listen one might be forgiven for thinking it a simple mover. In fact, there is a tightly woven complexity to it’s parts: multiple lines criss crossing each other above the gloriously insistent drums – sometimes disco, sometimes almost tribal – and the deeper shades at the root of the track. It’s the bass which ties things together: It’s a deep thrum, a potent groove riding beneath the sunshine glimmer of the higher registers. I expect Robert Hood has been pumping this in his DJ sets for some time already. It’s an almost perfect summer tune: energizing in the heat, and always smiling.

Ignitt Techno, despite it’s name, is no four to the floor banger. It’s heritage is much more clearly vintage Detroit Techno than the previous tune. It carries the vibe of Underground Resistance in their more laid back moments; the peels and chimes of synths and organ are pure Mike Banks, book-ended by thunderous claps and the pulse of a dirty, fuzzy bass. Beyond that it works it’s magic in the way – as was always a staple of the very best Detroit Techno – it sidesteps any harshness, relegating any latent aggression into the musical drive where it can work itself deep down into the structure of the tune and push those upper elements higher and higher until they sparkle in the clearer light.

Chocolate City sits at a slight tangent to the other two pieces. It’s a reversal of the formula found elsewhere on the record, taking the funk and disco and gospel as their starting point with Housey trills and smudges here and there instead of the other way around. It has the immediacy of a live session in the furnace of a packed, after hours bar, with the interplay of trebley guitar and keys carving out a path through the vocals and sweaty murk of the background noise. It feels ever so slightly out of place, but that doesn’t stop it from being a great tune, and one that deserves to be here, among the machine carved funk and grooves.