Review: Max D/Hashman Deejay – Shoegaze (Falstaff)

Maximilian Dunbar has made a career out of music that takes fairly well kent genres as a starting point before taking the mothership into deep orbit around them. The results, a mutated mix of house, techno, garage, disco (a lot of disco) and whatever else seems to have ended up floating past his voracious ears, have cemented his place in modern electronic music as that rarest of things: a maverick who has developed a knack for delivering a fiercely singular vision for what dance music could be without sacrificing what could almost be described as a pleasingly populist touch. It is this approach he brings to ‘Shoegaze’, a 12″ from new label Falstaff, and split with Moodhut affiliate and occasional ne’er-do-well on Dunbar’s own Future Times print, Hashman Deejay, who perhaps remains best known for his ‘On The Inner Plains’ 12 under his Ttam Renat guise from a year or so back.

On first listen the two track may seem to come from very different places. Shoegaze itself, like a lot of Max D’s work, is not easily placed in one genre or another, strutting somewhere between disco and up front house. The stomp of the kicks takes you one way before the stuttered vocal cut ups and the taut, nervy squirt of the synth drag you off in another, which lends it a slightly schizophrenic feel. What’s more, something in the vocal snips recalls early plus 8 records – a sort of diffuse acidy haze which slowly descends to saturate the music and polish it with a maddened sheen.

Hashman Deejay’s contribution lies at the other end of the scale. Samba pitches down and brings a scattered rattle of percussion to bear upon some lush Detroit chords and a fat cosmos bound bass line. It’s a gloriously realised of piece of sleek funk that carries within it a certain strand of DNA not unlike R-Theme by Derrick May in it’s warmth and soul. All the same it inhabits its own part of the aquatic depths, its pace deceptive and its energy unfurling through some cheeky, whispered bleeps buried way down in the mix.

What binds the two tracks together, as disparate as they might be, is a common vibe. Dreamy and disconnected from the normal world they both have their eyes and their thoughts turned skywards. Introspective (to a point) and travelling on some deep grooves the pair of them reach the same destination, a place where mood and emotion are mixed together into cloud skimming beauties. Impressive work from a pair of on form talents and a great début from the brand new label.