list.co.uk/music RECORDS | MUSIC
ELECTRONIC DENIS SULTA Aye Spoake Te Sumwuhn & They Listenhd (Ninja Tune) ●●●●● FOLK VETIVER Up on High (Loose) ●●●●●
For the past couple of years, Glasgow DJ and producer Hector Barbour has been cashing in early currency as an affiliate of his home city’s interlocking Rubadub, Sub Club, Numbers and Dixon Avenue Basement Jams scenes into growing international fame as ringmaster of his own Sulta Selects parties – holding court at self-selected dance festival line-ups around the world in his Denis Sulta guise. A great, intuitive DJ with a twitchy sense for genre-skipping sets made for
dancing, and a particular sense of showmanship which suggests he’d be in his own crowd if he wasn’t playing to it, Barbour/Sulta has skipped effortlessly over from the DJing big time to the premier league of production with this, his first release on Ninja Tune. As is increasingly the case these days, what’s billed as an EP is more of a mini-album, comprising eight tracks.
The supposedly shorter format allows a sense of playfulness which a longer-form record may not; specifically, the way he drops in snippets of his own voice which sound like they were recorded mid-party, even building one track (the closing ‘Welcome to the Rest of My Life’) entirely from his own vocal sample. New listeners will be here purely for the beats, however. The liquid house riff of ‘In Narito’ is a sophisticated groove to open, but the Denis Sulta sound hovers somewhere amid the tough urban techno of ‘Gas Whillis While I Paint My Nails’ and the energetic future rave of ‘It’s Tough But Not As Much As the Dream is Worth Joseph’.
Also, amid the scything, synthetic grooves of ‘Matthew Keeps Me Pirrie’ and
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‘Dan Will SOME Day KNOW How Special He Makes Me Feel’ (each song is a tribute to a friend), there is a real feeling for addictive melody. Barbour has spoken before about how he finds it hard to separate regular Hector and superstar Denis, and the disjointed vocal snippets give his vibrant productions a rough conceptual edge; a concept which says, this is a record for everyone deep in the sesh who’s trying to make fun and sanity balance. (David Pollock) ■ Out Fri 8 Nov.
Compared to his earlier work, Andy Cabic seems to have gravitated towards a reassuring, relaxed, dare-it-be-said middle-aged sound. His band Vetiver’s eponymous debut of 2004 had a quirkily unhinged psych-folk feel to it that was currency at the time (Devendra Banhart was a close collaborator and appeared on a couple of tracks), while 2006’s ‘More of the Past’ EP aligned itself to an almost overly jaunty rockabilly sensibility which was abandoned at the finale with slow-melting ambient fare. Nowadays, that sort of eclectic ambition has been left on the shelf, with Up on High‘s sights set significantly lower (perhaps the press image of him lounging around in a hammock with a cute pooch is more than just a little symbolic). While Cabic has been known to rock a room with bossanova DJ sets and
help curate albums of rare Japanese folk-rock, this collection is resolutely back to basics, crafted on acoustic guitar and aims, according to the press material, to nudge memories of Tom Petty’s Wildflowers and REM’s Murmur. But at best Cabic’s songs merely evoke those acts and albums rather than attempting in any way to transcend them. ‘Swaying’ goes back and forth without leaving much of an impression, while the gently melodic ‘All We Could Want’ threatens to be something you would desire but fritters away through repetition amid no evidence of a Plan B. The white-reggae atmosphere of ‘Hold Tight’ might actually leave you picturing Vetiver providing support to David Brent’s band, while in an alternative universe, ‘A Door Shuts Quick’ could be the first draft of a John Lewis Christmas ad.
In the collection’s lead single, and one of its more successful numbers, ‘To Who Knows Where’, Cabic pleads ‘Give me one more chance / One more song and dance / To prove I care’. His CV has more than enough quality in the bank for us to happily lend him that opportunity. Hopefully next time he’ll soar. (Brian Donaldson) ■ Out Fri 1 Nov.
CHICAGO HOUSE FLOORPLAN Supernatural (Aus Music) ●●●●● ART POP THE VEGAN LEATHER Poor Girls / Broken Boys (Midnight Pink / Believe Digital) ●●●●●
Detroit techno pioneer Robert Hood originally founded his Floorplan alias with the intention of incorporating a love of gospel with house, disco and techno, in a nod to his own faith and spirituality. But Floorplan has evolved since to include his daughter Lyric, an aspiring DJ and producer in her own right, who joined the project at the age of 19, helping with the creation of the 2016 album Victorious. Now the duo are back with new collaborative album Supernatural, taking in their signature Chicago house sound, while embracing high-energy cuts and soulful, sermon-like incantations.
Opener 'There Was A Time' sets the euphoric tone, with its fast and enriched melody providing six solid minutes of repetitive grooves, before the pounding techno backbeat and solid layering of 'Dance Floor' kicks in, crescendoing to an epic club-centric build. Elsewhere, the disco and soul elements are strong, with tracks like 'Fiyaaaa!' and 'Brothers & Sisters' offering anthemic vocal samples amid jacked-up kick drums and colourful syncopated rhythms. The glorious choral fragments are welcome surprises throughout, as on ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’, the vocal melody taken from the famous gospel hymn, soaring high above a techno backdrop that is as tense and sinister as it is sweet. Likewise, the syrupy vocals in 'I Try' glide beautifully alongside a shuffling synth line and drum beat, which, when isolated halfway through, make the re-entry of the drums all the more forceful.
Do you remember the first time? Not any nascent sexual awakening, nor the first flush of love, but the moment you realised how profoundly excited you were about just going home from a heavy night out – the late evening swell of bedroom fantasies now entirely composed of you, alone, with a good book and a hot chocolate? Heads up: you might well be living inside a Vegan Leather song. Not that the Paisley quartet’s debut album is sedentary; on the contrary,
each of the 11 tracks here are something of a riot, a hot streak burning through punk, disco, indie, and even a few metal moments. But it’s that classic pop juxtaposition of catchy tunes set to jet-black lyrical content that makes Poor Girls / Broken Boys such a rampant success.
First singles ‘French Exit’ and ‘The Hit’ both arguably offer the album in microcosm. The former seems to showcase various Saturday night anxieties – booze, drugs, other people – amalgamated into one glorious, accordion- strewn slice of art pop; the latter, meanwhile, explores the larger-scale pressures of being allowed to occupy space in society at all: ‘We exist cos we’re able to, cos you want me to, don’t need me to.’
The pace on Poor Girls / Broken Boys can be overwhelming in places,
permanently determined to dance out all the nervous energy, but it’s worth it. Fan favourite ‘Days Go By’ sounds catchier than ever here, and the Depeche
Supernatural is an uplifting and atmospheric record, with the majority of its 10 tracks retaining a minimalist undercurrent while still packing a thunderous punch. Closing track 'Generations From Now' is a brilliant conclusion; its repeated piano riff and expressive percussion reminding you of the power of the Hoods merging of gospel and soul with house and techno, as well as their innate ability to raise spirits on the dancefloor. (Arusa Qureshi) ■ Out Fri 8 Nov.
Mode-inspired goth-pop of ‘Heavy Handed’, which recently premiered on BBC Radio 1's Indie Show with Jack Saunders, sounds massive. More than anything, the Vegan Leather speak truth. ‘The songs are a testament to how people learn to deal with hardships and tell stories, of how we either succumb or resist to the world we live in,’ singer Marie says in the press notes. Don’t we need a little more of that in the world? (Matthew Neale) ■ Out now.
1 Nov 2019–31 Jan 2020 THE LIST 111