It’s been a heavy couple of weeks, all things considered. Life gets like that sometimes and music is one of those weapons that can usually ease the sharpness of the moment, or a lot of moments all coming together like a cat o’ nine tails and flaying your hopes along with your hide. There have been a whole bunch of new records to sink our teeth into lately – new albums by Levon Vincent and Anthony Naples chief amongst them. But while those albums are pretty darn good my mood has been entirely too fragile too really get on board with them yet. It’s February in Britain. It is the dictionary definition of a miserable time. And while the rain, snow, hail and various real world bastards take it in turns to lay me low, I found myself reaching for this one instead.
I know nothing about Ross From Friends other than what is to be found here on ‘Alex Brown’, his début on new label Breaker Breaker. There are a glut of producers out there just now doing big things and making sampling an integral part of their sound on a scale we haven’t really heard in a long time. Not many of them seem as willing to get gleefully abusive with the source material though, throwing out an old school blast that is warm and fun and layering the sounds on top some proper dancefloor grooves like this. There is enough here to tie it in with a handful of other producers – think along the lines of the stuff Delroy Edwards has been releasing on his Gene’s Liquor imprint: seriously damaging house cuts heady with blasts of disco and soul and jazz. There is also something to the sound which is a kindred spirit to Herva’s brand of weirdly free roaming electronica, although Ross From Friends brings a tighter groove, less likely to have you wondering what exactly it was you just heard.
Beyond that, the similarities are pretty much superficial. The three rockets on ‘Alex Brown’ are built from the ground up to do real damage in your favourite little sweat box, although I’m going to go right ahead and suggest that your proper Resident Advisor certified, po faced, beardy techno jocks probably aren’t going to be keeping this in their box for long. This is the anti-Berlin. Thank God for that.
Sometimes a little awkward in the pacing, and dropping occasional moments that feel a little bit like montages rather than a unified whole, there is still more than enough here to get the smiles going and enough invention keep you noticing something new on repeated listens. Golf School is the most direct of the three with its big disco soaked vibe slinking towards a clattering finale; sultry yet innocently playful, it just wants to dance its little socks off.
The other two are by turns darker and more experimental. Ridley Schött is a compressed Lo-fi burner that gradually flares into a booze fuelled rave dream, the samples flailing and whipping against the ominous bass and crump of the drums. Biz pushes past that. It’s long opening segment prowling and percussive before it changes tact, lets the haze of background noise come forward and settles into a jazzy groove that hints of the long summer nights to come.
Like I said, it’s a little uneven, but with so many ideas packed onto the wax that’s more than understandable. An undeniably fun record that experiments on conventions and should furnish you with a little something extra to deal with the worst the world and the winter can throw at you.