Thursday, 16 September 2010

Jam City - 'Refixes' EP (NSWL004)

After first hearing Jam City's debut 'Refixes' EP I was lost for words. This debut is beyond words, the best way to explain my thoughts/feelings towards the EP is that the delicate needle of my turntable hasn't left the surface of the beautiful 12" vinyl since I purchased it around a week ago. The EP was originally released back in mid August, but my uptake of the EP has been delayed due to my hesitance to purchase or even listen to releases on the Night Slugs label, one which doesn't sit too well with my tastes in past experience. A bad move I must admit. I have been deprived of this wonder for a month, but my word it was more than worth the wait. 

Jam City is a relatively unknown young London producer, who has no previous releases to his name. Hype, however, has been quick to surround the young man in circles over the past few months, and this EP is evidence of why he has been receiving countless tips for future success. The style of the EP is hard to pin down, although I would suggest that it leans more towards the ever distinguishable UK funky/house fragment of the UK bass scene, but with a greater sense of maturity and control. The 'Refixes' EP does exactly what its title suggests, so we are still yet to be given any of Jam City's original work. He takes 3 tracks, 'Ecstasy' by Endgames (downtempo funk),  'Let Me Bang' by DJ Deeon (ghetto house, juke), and 'Shut The Lites Off' by DJ Bone (house), and transforms them into his own artifact. The selection of tracks to 'refix' is excellent, almost as good as the production of the 'refixes' themselves.

Deciding on a favourite track was a near impossible task, but purely on its instrumental excellence, it has to be the leading track, 'Ecstasy' refix. 'Ecstasy' is a wonderfully produced work, one which manages to employ a certain restraint and balance throughout whilst threatening to erupt at any moment, especially on the couple of rare occasions where a heavy grumbling bassline becomes animated below complex percussion and synth stabs. The distant sound of bongo patters are ever present in the background, accompanied by an almost constant snare hit. The one element which completes this track, and provides it its real swing is the surging synth arrangements, which complements the beat pattern brilliantly. This track is at times verges on the grime elements of UK funky with its raw natural sound, but the excellent arrangement and construction of the synths and beat render this something more peculiar, an other worldly record in the world of UK funky which sets a new standard and tone. Outrageously good. 

'Let Me Bang' is a brilliant effort, a great re-working of the original track. The original stepping 4x4 beat is kept in tact with the shuddering bass, but Jam City adds layers of percussive elements to make this rhythm slightly more complex, and seemingly ever rising synth lines which keep you on edge in conjunction with the infrequent vocal clips sampled from the original ghetto house track. The EP is rounded off by 'Shut The Lites Off', probably the weaker of the 3, but still a magnificent effort, and one which would receive much more acclaim had the other two attempts not been so well produced (although in fairness each track is a beautiful re-working in its own right). 'Shut The Lites Off' is a tense affair, with the spare presence, or lack thereof, of a drum beat leaving this track on edge, animated rather by Joe (Hessle Audio) styled percussion, incredible glitch synths that recall the work of the beat scene in LA, and darker synth basslines which provide much of the tense atmosphere for the track's duration. The sounds combine with a deep male vocal clip that creates a sound like no other, one which takes you on a journey of angst and terror, although the light relief is occasionally provided in the form of the light outer space glitch synths.

A wonderful debut by an extremely promising young artist. Still we are yet to hear any of his own original material, but these refixes are more than evidence enough that Jam City is one of the most talented producers in UK bass music. There will now be a further weight of expectation on his up-coming future releases, an expectation I think he'll meet with relative ease, or maybe just he'll blow them away as he as done his beautifully worked debut. Thank you Jam City. You can click the link below to listen to or purchase the EP on 12" at Boomkat.


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