Archives for the month of: June, 2018

Album Review: High Life, Detroit Swindle (Heist Recordings, June 2018)


Detroit Swindle is an electronic music duo comprised of Dutch producers Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets. Their last LP, Boxed Out (Dirt Crew Recordings, 2014) was one of my favourites from that year in any genre, particularly because of the uplifting closing track, “You, Me, Here, Now,” a re-edit of The Floaters’ “Float On” (ABC, 1977).

I always hold a little more anticipation for full-length albums from producers like these who are prolific in releasing singles but not so in long play recordings. The wait is usually worth it and High Life rises to the occasion.

Dales and Smeets have a knack for creating great dance music but also for creating tracks you can listen to more deeply because of how rich they are in melody, rhythm, and arrangement. The title track is a perfect example: 7 minutes of entrancing synth and beats but with a compositional variation not often found in straight-ahead house tracks.

The duo’s collaboration with singer/songwriter Tom Misch, “Yes, No, Maybe” is a standout hit. “Ketama Gold” and “The Girl from Shiraz” are soulful instrumentals, the latter adeptly using the synthesizer to create an immersive mood piece sans a drum track.

High Life is proof that electronic, dance, and house music can be nuanced, dynamic, and interesting to listen to. You might say Dales and Smeets possess a jazz sensibility. I really like the album cover too – it looks like a jazz record. Just saying.

Further Listening:

My favourite track from their last LP, Boxed Out

And the original, by The Floaters

Advertisements

Album Review: The Return, Kamaal Williams (Black Focus, 2018)

Kamaal Williams (a.k.a. Henry Wu) and half of Yussef Kamaal just dropped a killer jazz album withThe Return.

I’ve been listening to this record repeatedly for 2 weeks Now that it has soaked in, I can honestly say it is one of the most pure jazz albums in recent years. Williams’ keyboard, Joshua McKenzie’s drums, and Pete Martin’s bass produce an immersive soundscape, evoking mood and movement.

The album’s purity is oddly tied to how casual it appears to be. The tracks are easy-going, simply constructed, but at the same time, positively gripping.

There are strong influences of Herbie Hancock and other 70’s synth funk pioneers but Williams also injects a dose of contemporary electronic, ambient, and broken beat.

The Return is a complement to the Yussef Kamaal Black Focus (Brownswood, 2016) project Williams did with drummer Yussef Dayes. Although the two records have a similar style, The Return is more sparse in its arrangements, with nary a guitar or horn. In that sense too, it is pure: a beguiling crucible of keys, drums, and bass.

Related:

Yussef Kamaal’s brilliant performance in the Brownswood Basement, Dec 29, 2016