After a string of big 12-inches for the likes of Apple Pips and Brainmath over the last handful of years, one of the UK's freshest voices went silent in 2011. Brackles released just one record last year, a two-tracker on Rinse with the promise of a full-length to come. More than six months after that teaser, Rob Kemp's first album has finally arrived, and it's no wonder we haven't heard from him in a minute: Rinse Presents: Brackles is a cohesive, singular statement that finds his sound truly rising to the occasion. Nothing here is exactly new: from Roska to Cooly G to Brackles himself, UK house has had plenty of rhythmically adventurous, bass-forward proponents over the last few years. But on Brackles our man takes an established formula and utterly enlivens it.
The album splits neatly between vocal cuts (courtesy of Funkystepz and FaltyDL collaborator Lily McKenzie and Terri Walker, the voice of T. Williams' "Heartbeat") and heavily rhythmic instrumentals, and Brackles proves on-point with both. Showcasing actual human voices rather than the chop-and-paste skills of the man at the controls, the opening one-two of "Never Coming Down" and "I Can't Wait" suggests an older definition of "producer" than we tend to use in underground club music. Brackles is in pop mode here, using his wiggly, bottom-heavy rhythms to follow and enhance these sultry voices, not overpower them. And he's got an obvious ear for a good song too: tracks like "Chasing Crazy," with thick bass, out-front vocals and dense tropical drums are as danceable as they are hummable.
Brackles also nails his pure club tracks. "Lighthouse" puts an old school house melody through the ringer of wildly syncopated, up-to-the-minute percussion. "Squarehead," all gooey bassline and percussion barrage, builds tension in advance of "Too Much," the record's true moment of catharsis: it's nominally a vocal cut, but its pounding drums and lockstep bass seem to outrun the singer. Far more spacious than its brethren, closer "Earphone Memories" sounds like Brackles launching himself into space. The liftoff is welcome, but Rinse Presents: Brackles showcases a producer who's very much working at ground level, enthusiastically tying our feet in knots.
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Tracklist: Brackles - Rinse Presents: Brackles 01. Never Coming Down feat. Lily McKenzie
02. I Can't Wait
04. DPMO feat. Terri Walker
05. Walkin' Out
06. Chasing Crazy
07. Square Head
08. Too Much
09. Go Head
10. Earphone Memories
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