Review: Simoncino – Gherkin Tape EP (Unknown To The Unknown)

I always enjoy alighting on planet UTTU, mainly because even if you have a pretty good idea what you’re going to get, often times it turns out you don’t. The ability of the label to mix it up, to slide releases between twisted ghetto-tech, raved up breakbeat, stinging electro and all stops between while holding on to a peculiarly British feeling of gurning, strobe stained, acid house lunacy has long been a source of joy around here. Even more than that, their choice of artists, from big hitters like Stingray or Legowelt to less well-known nutters like Anil Aras or Mall Grab, has always brought together a mix of producers who share something of that same mental vibe, regardless of how different their sonic shenanigans are.

Deep down it’s house music that flows through the label’s veins, and Simoncino’s Gherkin Tape EP rolls it right back to the late 80s with a hat tip to Larry Heard’s seminal Gherkin Jerks project. Such things can be occasionally fraught with worry – homage is one thing, replication is another – but Simoncino has long been a producer who gets the rhythms and feelings of early Chicago house and acid, and Gherkin Tape does a pretty good of conjuring up Heard’s rare, peerless, combination of jack and soul.

And it really is soul that’s the important word here. In Gherkin Tape itself it’s to be found in the way the gentle ache of the synths lies lightly on top of the weaving bass and the dirty, free roaming drums. The tune doesn’t so much move as tap itself forward, seeing what spaces it can fit into, and how far it can take the mix of so few obvious elements. Modern electronic music, even house, often feels that it needs to fill the quiet stretches with the unnecessary, as if often uncomfortable with its own simple idea. Here Simoncino delights in drawing the magic out of a tiny bag of tricks, and gives time to letting the tune wonder off on its own adventure.

Chicago and Dance Mania legend Houz Mon is enlisted on Gherkin Tape’s remix duties, and ably retools the slender, understated, track into a full-blown, primo grade acid banger that shifts and morphs with no regard whatsoever for the ankle breaking intensity of the curling, dirty, 303. It sometimes gets that you feel if you’ve heard one acid track in the course of the last few months, you’ve probably heard them all, but there’s something powerfully different in Houz Mon’s cut. It might be as old school as they come, but that fact alone, the full-blown, jacking fun of it makes it feel both familiar yet refreshing, like when that one mad mate you haven’t seen for an age descends out of nowhere with a rucksack full of Buckie. It’s a lesson in just how effective that classic acid blueprint still is when it’s bred from some genuine party DNA.

For me, though, it’s Din Sync that draws everything together. Trippy, cosmic house of a sort I haven’t heard in a long, long, time. It flies upwards and outwards with a deep and trancey energy, the kicks and the percussion working with piston-like efficiency as the synths and rounded acidic edges pull and coerce, drag and climb, towards the all too sudden end. It’s a beaut. Simultaneously old fashioned yet very modern it perfectly captures Larry Heard’s sense of futuristic groove. If your going to go back to the source, this is how it’s done. Excellent.

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