Little Reviews: Jay Daniel – School Dance (Watusi High); Nathan Melja – ACI (Opal Tapes)

Jay Daniel – School Dance (Watusi High)

Detroit’s latest wunderkind Jay Daniel finally finds a more permanent home for himself on his new label, Watusi High, after a fairly nomadic career so far. Along with Kyle Hall, Daniel’s has quickly become one of the city’s great new hopes on the back of his Scorpio Rising Ep, which was OK but garnered just a little too much praise, and last year’s Karmatic Equations double, which was a knock out and didn’t get enough. Hey ho, that’s how it goes.

School Dance falls somewhere between the two with a pair of the sort of dusty, loose Detroit house work outs that have quickly become his signature sound. Thank U Jay, the more up front of the pair, belts out a primer in full half-jacking style reminiscent of early Relief Records material. Big crunching kicks and a riffing bass dominate, but the tune is sweetened by some stylish and potent synths that reinforce that hazy early nineties feel. Anything With A Moonroof is looser and more playful. Owing a debt to Theo Parrish in that way the it rolls around, and whaps at it with laid back style, feeling for a moment that it’s content to do little else before the effervescent synths begin to filter slowly into the tune and your conciousness taking you on a slowly unfolding journey. Not quite as excellent as Karmatic Equations, then, but a record that reveals Daniel’s getting in touch with an even deeper and thoughtful side of his undoubted skills.

Nathan Melja – A.C.I (Opal Tapes)

Opal Tapes increasingly interesting Black Opal side project returns with not one, not two but three new records which further reinforce the feel that the sub label has been set up to carry music with a greater and more obvious dance floor focus than the bulk of the raw experimental electronica that defines the parent so well. Nathan Melja – last seen with his great 12″, Steady Mobbin’ on Mr Saturday Night – leads the triple headed charge.

A.C.I is by turns raw and deep, inhabiting an off kilter world which always feels on the verge of crumbling away into a thousand sharp frequencies. Moving between roughed up gutter house and more dub infused late night material it’s a record that takes a basic framework and rewires it until it’s able to cope with dirty and experimental electronic grafts. Its main strength lies in its wilfulness to pump those same electronic touches with grooves that are at times harsh, others aquatic and rolling but always tight and cheeky.

Special badge of merit goes to Venasce which drips liquid funk over a piece of sophisticated floor ready techno and ripens it with a slow burning and jazzy riff while the gritty, hollowed out bass chews at your head. A collection of deceptively clever and impressive tunes, A.C.I is one of the most immediate and satisfying records to be released under the Opal Tapes banner in quite some time. One of three. Collect the set.

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