Apron Records’ head honcho Steven Julien has hit us with some good stuff over the last while. Aside from very strong offerings from the likes of Greg Beato, Seven Davis Jr and Adam Feingold, as well as solo releases under his FunkinEven guise, he’s also linked up with some of the hottest Young Gunslingers from the other side of the pond like Delroy Edwards and Kyle Hall (under the FunkinEvil banner), revelling with them in some of the grittiest, acid soaked House to come out of London for a very, very long time.
Where, on first listen, the bulk of FunkinEven releases would seem to stand tall in the midst of the current mayhem of blood soaked, lo-fi insanity, there has never been any camouflaging the fact that his tastes run to more than basic Acid House and Techno. There has long been the rich tang of funk and soul and disco in his work (and the work of those he champions) that bucks the contemporary trend for simple noise music that seems to be permeating the scene at the moment. In Jay Daniel, The young Detroit prodigy and Kyle Hall’s regular partner in crime at the Motor City’s monthly Fundamentals night, he has a real kindred spirit. Daniel’s own brand of grainy House grooves (most recently realised on his Karmatic Equations Double EP for Hall’s Wild Oats label) has the rough bump of modern rollers, but the body of classic texture where both the lineage of his own home city as well as Chicago’s second golden age are strong.
Apron’s 13th release is a story of contrast, as might be naturally expected from any temporary partnership, however similar the two producers tastes would seem to be: contrasts from the artists involved, contrast to their previous work and also between the two tracks presented here. Whether this is a simple split EP between the two or a more involved collaborative effort, I don’t know. Really, though, I doubt it matters.
Discipline is the quicker of the two, in velocity and eagerness to please. It’s a wobbly worker, but deceptively sharp and it demands you pay attention to the way it switches its stance here and there, swapping kicks around and pulling the floor out from under you. Sunrise blasts of ragged synths blare their way into your consciousness but never drag attention away from the wonderful, grunting bass line that kicks and grinds like an Acid House Bootsy Collins on a trip to the moon. Intriguingly, it has the same flush of Psychedelic kitsch that made the last record by the Maghreban such a joy to listen to. It lacks the rush of 50’s skull music that marks the Maghreban’s darkly reflective territory, but there is the similar feel of an internal journey that is less about the destination and more about the ride itself.
As a companion piece, Abyss is about as far as you can get from Discipline. A brutalized end-of-day trip, almost a shadow without a body, it hangs suspended by its own internalized angst. It’s a Drexciyan odyssey written on a bleak Monday in winter. Peels and stabs of raw sound disorient and the ratchet snaps of the verbed percussion curve around the event horizon that forms the tune’s heart. It’s hardly easy, but its an adventurous and cinematic work that bears repeated listens.