Review: Jeremiah R – Callisto (Tabernacle)

While it’s tempting to say that Jeremiah R’s second release for Tabernacle picks up where last year’s Underwater Title left off I’m not sure it would be entirely accurate. Underwater Title was a grand statement of what I’m sure someone, somewhere, is already describing as ‘deep electro’, and it certainly evoked a sense of billowing, open beauty that was worlds away from the harsher, skeletal grooves which pervades much of the genre these days. But while the record occasionally felt a little too comfortably wrapped up in its thick blanket of fat pads and swirling, Detroit synths, it retained a strong sense of self, particularly in the way it seemed to keep the more obvious influences at arm’s length.

Callisto returns with Jeremiah R’s sense of sonic adventure still in place, and at first listen it’s easier to spot the similarities than the differences. Jeremiah’s ear for radiant sound remains intact, as does his love of the easy drama and quiet romance that’s to be found in the ushering of mood through bubbling progressions of melody. Give it a few more goes, though, and Callisto begins to subtly alter. While it’s still replete with beauty it’s perhaps of a colder sort, harsher even. It goes beyond that, though; Callisto simply seems tougher.

This may be to do with the way the beats seem tighter. Underwater Title was a great release, but often the beats and the rhythms felt a little deliberately perfunctory as if they had been left a little underformed so they wouldn’t detract (or distract) from the complex sound worlds unfolding above them. Their role was to guide, to hint at shifts of being, and to provide a bedrock for everything else was going on. It mostly worked well too.

Here the beats are fatter, and they are far less shy about making their presence felt. Although they never overwhelm the proceedings, and rarely thunder their way into your consciousness, they’ve been given more leeway to marshal the tracks into a less sunny direction. On tracks like Callisto, where the percussion and a perfectly weighted kick funnel the breakbeats into a focused, lean groove they add an urgency to the music which deepens and accents the cold mood without allowing to become too icy.

In fact, it’s this quiet discipline of direction which nourishes most of Callisto, and its role in influencing the interplay between mood and groove has led to Callisto’s increased feeling of adventure. Where Jeremiah R retains his vision of a modern take on electro, the tastes and ideas are wider ranging, falling across a greater hinterland of concept without really losing sight of where he wants to go. Tunes like The Deep or Octavius are tougher jams than perhaps anything on the previous record. Octavius in particular is far more up front. It moves away from the electro framework, injecting a clattering drive that propels it forward, and coupling the sleepy Detroit touches to a sinewy bassline which adds a very old school, trancey atmosphere. Swimmers delivers the toughness and the drive in a slick, brash take on potent Drexciyan electro-techno, one of the few occasions the producer let his loves and influences take centre stage.

A little careful at times, especially in those moments when you want the tunes to cut loose, and on occasion guilty of a slightly too serious sense of its own grandeur, Callisto manages to take elements of electro, techno and IDM and mold them into something that introduces a new emotional depth to a genre which can sometimes seem too reliant on the abstract. For Jeremiah R, Tabernacle and electro it’s a strong start to the new year, and one that promises some interesting things to come.

Favourite Tune of 2015: DJ Stingray – eRbB4(Kon001 Mix). A Friday Night Tune Special

Choosing a favourite tune from all the tunes released in a single calendar year is a stupid thing to do. It is almost as pointless as teaching quantum physics to cats, as twice as hard as herding the little feline buggers into the lecture theatre in the first place. In 2015 there were literally hunners of tunes I fell in love with. Some of that – the larger amount – were infatuations that burned away in a few hours or days. Others were longer affairs, the tunes settling into my hears and head for a brief honeymoon. Very few, though, lasted the course.

Some of them weren’t from 2015 at all, and were actually rediscoveries of tracks I had once loved and all but forgotten about or older tunes I was hearing for the first time. I hadn’t heard Blake Baxter’s Our Luv  for maybe 10 or 12 years before Goodhand played it at the Numbers/Mystec party in September. It was a similar story with a host of old electro records from the likes of Spesimen, Third Electric and I-F. Others were new to me but still old. If it’s possible to wear out a FLAC through overuse I’ve just about done it with Boris Divider’s 10-year-old Clone Factory.

As for the tunes of 2015, they were there in thick bunches, and many of them seemed to be by Luca Lozano. Almost every record he released this year was a cracker whether it was a solo effort or in collaboration, with Gun Fingers and Dripbox standing out particularly brightly. Shanti Celeste’s SSS blew me away when I heard its deep, Detroitish tones, as did DJ Overdose’s Vinca on UTTU. Arcanoid’s Acto 2 from La Cólera De Los Débiles on Odio also smashed my tiny brain when I first heard it – such a loose jam; always close to falling apart yet just about managing to keep it’s fantastic vibe flowing. Peverelist’s Undulate came out of nowhere and just floored me, as did Florist’s endlessly spacious, Basic Channel invoking Final Bounce of All Caps.

There were two tunes in particular which seemed to keep dragging themselves into my consciousness with the nagging enthusiasm of their own brilliance. I hadn’t really paid too much attention to Adesse Versions in the past even though I have most of the releases. Somewhere along the line, and I’m not sure why, Pride just started cropping up whenever I was doing a mix. A lot of house music just now seems to get me down. Predictably comfortable shapes and sounds, an over reliance on it and discos past and the increasing suspicion of its growing musical conservatism got to me. Pride, from his release on Numbers, isn’t like that, though. Its sleazy, debauched and darkened air is sharpened by focus, and brought to life when the vocal eventually kicks in with the wild force of a drunken ex turning up on your doorstep at three in the morning. I seem to play it at +8 a lot, which is possibly why the tune’s sultriness morphs into something even more purposeful. It’s one of those rare tracks which seem to straddle the line, equally at home in a big club, playing to a big club crowd as it does a tiny, grimy place on a humid Friday night. I made no conscious effort to get to know it and yet it got itself in there. If that isn’t the mark of a great tune I don’t know what is.

DJ Stingray’s Cognition EP on Lower Parts was one of a couple of great releases for the veteran producer, and his best moment was the KON001 remix of eRbB4. I don’t know who KON001 is, whether he’s connected to the label or the guise of someone well known, but he turns in one of the very best reinterpretations I’ve heard in a long time. I’m not a major fan of remixes. Too often they seem to bring little to the table to make the effort worthwhile, or they totally rebuild to the point you might as well have just written something from scratch. KON001 retains the tough but wistful bustle of Stingray’s original but burns away its laidback air and Model 500 touches allowing a deeper, haunting, and quite beautiful piece of unbelievable electo-soul to bloom instead. It takes an age to get going, but when it does it can’t help but bowl you over. It’s a dusky autumnal masterpiece, taut with slowly unfurling drama and warmed ever so slightly by a playful charm that makes it’s presence increasingly felt when the little fragments of Detroit’s heritage begin to glint in the turning light. The more I listen to it, the more I love it. If this doesn’t get full Classic status from the European Commission For Banging Tunes it will be an injustice. If you don’t hunt this down you’re making a mistake. The best of the year? In my ears yes; it really is that special. Outstanding.