Finally getting to the bottom of the pile. Just in time too. Here are the last reviews of the year, I think. All the contractually obliged best-of lists up next week if I can remember anything about what I listened too.
Matt Whitehead – Bombing EP (Super Rhythm Trax)
Matt Whitehead’s name is probably most recognizable to people on the back of his A Is For Acid Ep on Perc Trax acouple of years back. Although the record never contained the original tune, Perc’s furious remix was heard pretty much everywhere. Here he alights on Jerome Hill’s superb and criminally underrated Super Rhythm Trax – A label which is a great fit for Whitehead’s love of old school forms dragged into the here and now.
The Bombing EP is acid house pure and simple, and anyone who does’t get giddy at the sound of a 303 going mental should probably look elsewhere. I have to admit that I occasionally get that fear myself; the basic form is so played out it can be difficult to feel anything other than jaded when it rears its head again. What makes the difference here is that it stays away from aping the sounds of Chicago. The acid on offer here is far more British in tone: Scruffier, harder, informed by rave and dungarees. It makes a difference, especially these days when that Brit acid house 88 spirit is often mentioned but seldom experienced. Both Birdland and Crosstalk hit up exactly that theme, replete with loose grooves and chirpy acid squiggles, descending quickly into cheery acid madness. We’re Bombing shifts the goalposts with a slab of brilliant and precise old school electro so authentic you can imagine it framing a montage in an 80s movie.
Best of the lot is the shuffling acid thunder of Seeing Red, which finally yanks on that Chicago umbilical cord to great effect. Slowly unfolding, menacing and funky as hell, it’s a purebred reminder of how effective, and potent, that original sound was when it was delivered by the right hands. I misspoke earlier: Anyone who doesn’t get giddy at the sound of a 303 going mental should look right here. If this doesn’t fix you, you’re probably beyond needing fixed.
E.R.P – New Road (Tuppence)
E.R.P, AKA Convexion, AKA Gerald Hanson steps up to the plate for one final blast in what has been a very interesting year. His Convextion album, 2845, did the business whilst uniting our various gangs, crews, and teams in a desperate hunt to actually find copies of the bugger before the label did the decent thing and repressed it. The one other E.R.P release this year, the Ancient Light EP on Solar One, effortlessly redefined the ways in which electro can break free of gravity and wander the universe.
This final hit of electro for 2016 comes on 7″, which is a weird treat for me as I think it’s the only one I’ve bought this year barring a Nina Simone repress. Doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference, of course. At least it’s not a 10″ which, as we all know, are evil, strange, and wrong. E.R.P makes good use of the limited waxy real estate with a pair of tunes that largely take up what he was doing on the Solar One record. Many people have attempted to copy this sound, but Hanson’s relationship with deep, spatially twisting electro is second to none.
That said, New Road itself suffers from its truncated length, weighing in as it does at a fraction over three minutes. While many tunes overstay their welcome, this one is just beginning to weave a tangled emotional web, courtesy of those trademarked lattices of fragile, angelic synths. Here they’re chaperoned by some growling, speaker humpingly deep bass, but the tune simply runs out before things really come alive.
Summer Nights holds a lot of the purer electro impulses in check and is perhaps better for it. Warm, flowing, and – importantly – long enough to really invest in the rich tapestry of mood, time and place the music brings into being, it has a touch of classic Detroit to it, to the extent that the rhythms and percussion, and the way they slip and roll around the slivers of melody and the pads, recalls Derrick May’s way with subtlety and interplay. Slight, perhaps, gossamer in its build it still manages to captivate with its gentle persuasion. Couldn’t find any clips so get it before its gone.