One of the key takeaways from RA's recent Exchange interview with Crosstown Rebels boss Damian Lazarus was his sense of pride that no catchall term existed for the music his label releases. By extension, the same could be said of the related (and wildly popular) house sound pushed by the network of labels that takes in Hot Creations, No.19, Wolf + Lamb et al. However, from a UK perspective, I'd argue that in the absence of any clunky sub-genre term, the defining factor in all of this has been Jamie Jones.
In the years prior to his and Lee Foss' Hot Creations imprint becoming a global force, Jones was the most prominent proponent of a style of house that put basslines and '80s-inspired synths front and centre. His 2009 debut, Don't You Remember the Future, was totemic in this regard. It's a style that's since been the driving force in him being voted RA's #1 DJ of 2011, and has proved a primary influence for an entire generational subset of producers. Almost three years after Future, Jones returns to Crosstown Rebels for Tracks from the Crypt, an album that serves as both an overdue encapsulation of a movement's figurehead and a lingering disappointment.
Both of these viewpoints are related to the album's sub-heading: "lost classics from the vaults 2007-2012." While it's difficult to quantify exactly, it appears as though only three of Crypt's 12 tracks—"Mari 2d Underground," "Our Time In Liberty," "Tonight In Tokyo"—are more recent recordings. The others are what fans or regular attendees to Jones' gigs might class as "well-worn staples." It's not difficult to hear why many of these tracks have enjoyed such longevity. Opener "Somewhere," for instance, brims with dance floor appeal, its simple piano riff and incidental vocal snatch forming a memorable double-act. "Frequencies," another older number, similarly utilizes a one-word female vocal, a lacquered and filtered guitar this time providing the track's main thrust. Of Crypt's newer material, "Mari 2D Underground" is a highlight. A writhing synth, not dissimilar to that of Loco Dice's "Seeing Through Shadows," makes a two-octave leap from the track's bassline springboard, a background sense of gloom nagging at the lower-end's more sunny disposition.
Taken on an individual basis, there is very little here that couldn't have formed some part of a release around the point of creation, albeit as a more sparse and floor-focussed B-side. The bells, whistles and additional production flourishes of Remember the Future are largely absent on Crypt, making for an effective collection of (to use Jones' term) "weapons" for DJs, but little for deeper absorption in the home listening environment. It's recently come to light that Jones is currently working exclusively on a Hot Natured full-length alongside Less Foss, Ali Love and Luca C, recording in "big studios" in London and "making sure it's suitable for radio." Five years after his full break through it's the type of developmental decision you'd expect from a scene-leading artist who's been setting the agenda for so many—but it's also the move that many more would have been longing for on Tracks from the Crypt.
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Tracklist: Jamie Jones - Tracks from the Crypt 01. Somewhere
02. City At Night feat. Surveillance Party
03. Tonight In Tokyo feat. Luca C.
04. Special Effect
05. Mari 2D Underground
06. Our Time In Liberty feat. Art Department
07. Stems From Hackney
09. Over Each Other feat. Livia Giammaria
11. Havana Good Time
12. The Lows
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