There are a few producers who – for reasons I’m sure the Peanut Gallery can expand upon from the sanctity of their skinny jeans and dainty beards – seem to be if not exactly ignored then denied the larger audience they really should be due. Amir Alexander is an obvious one. He has been kicking out sublime jams for years but never seems to have hit the success he should have. I’m not talking about making millions of bucks here, or being handed little cups of sake by Richie Hawtin in some Ibizan gonk-pit, but the sort of cultural respect where he is simply regarded by everyone as a talent worth talking about. (Not that there aren’t many of us who aren’t doing that, but there should be more…many, many more.)
French producer Anaxander is another who seems to be mysteriously under the radar for a lot of people. There are in fact parallels with Amir beyond this weird oversight. Both have the sort of rapid fire output that gives L.I.E.S a run for Morelli’s riches. Both are smack right down in the middle of a serious love of analogue funk, and both make the sort of deep and intelligent House that we just don’t get to hear enough of anymore, which is a shame because it’s the sort of music we need now more than ever.
While I’m not sure Travelogues represents Anaxander’s very best work to date, it’s certainly an accomplished release with more going for it than should be allowed. In many ways it’s a journey back to the days when House was still informed by true Electronica, by tribal rhythms, by disparate influences being slammed into each other. Informed by everything, in fact, except itself. The astounding taste House music has developed for its own reflection is treated across Travelogues with the sort of respect it deserves. In short, it is ignored.
The A-side carries two pure bred grooves that don’t stint with the depth. Wild Grass is a tricksy number, pushing and pulling on your emotions with scattered yet restrained breaks and a dropping bass line that loops through the haze of synths with laser guided precision. There are certainly tribal elements to it, straight from the South Med and offset by twirling candyfloss strands of bleeps and squeals that never hold still in the breezy thrust of the rest of the tune. Night Train drops into dusk with a burrowing and acidic prowler that drags a crimped vocal into it’s path and mauls it for kicks. The discordant pads spill out like gasses from dirty vents, the percussion hacking malevolently at the coiled bass but never getting the better of it.
The B side is remix heavy. Label boss Ben Boe takes aim at Wild Grass with his 16bit mix and transforms it into a slick plateau dweller. It’s nice but over polished and lacks the warmth and adventure of the original, reframing the shenanigans in a straight 4/4 groove. The second remix of Wild Grass , the Madjurai Raj Dub reinstates the sense of experimentalism with a half speed shuffle and extra bleeps. Its fun and odd at the same time, like Tom Waits left alone with a bunch of Techno DATS and his imagination.
The last tune, The Snake Charmer, is a ‘vinyl only exclusive’ which should get you out to your local Brick and Mortar store if you have any sense. It’s a lithe grooved, square bassed little stomper that loops and bucks with a cheeky verve and energy that is a little lacking elsewhere on the side. Worth the wait. Play it loud.