In the last year or two, New York's Slava Balasanov, best known for releasing old school-style house on labels like Future Times and Mathematics, has shifted to less traditional blueprints. The Moscow-born artist grew up in Chicago, and though the city's musical legacy remains an influence on his work, he's also moved on from classic house in favor of one of its modern descendents: footwork. Last year's Soft Control, his debut for Daniel Lopatin's Software imprint, brought a tender new dimension to footwork, combining its raunchy sexuality and DJ Spinn's sentimental soul.
Perhaps because Balasanov is an outsider to Chicago's actual footwork scene, the style of his music is hard to pin down. For one thing, the tracks that make up Raw Solutions (and Soft Control, for that matter), are not strictly 160 BPM—in fact, only one track, "I Know," sits at that tempo. Perhaps because of this, the song is an easy highlight. It's also about as romantic as footwork gets, with stumbling toms that underpin a woozy synthesizer and come-hither vocal whispers.
Balasanov aims for the dance floor at several points throughout. "Girls On Dick" and "How U Get That" seem as indebted to New Orleans rap as they are to anything Chicagoan. "Werk" is similarly outrageous, if less overtly sexual, with an old school NY/NJ house organ as a hook. The sparse, high-speed jack of "Doit" is intuitive as hell, at least before it accelerates beyond the point of normal body response. But the album truly peaks on a pair of emotional epics. The frisky shuffle of "Girl Like Me" is melded with aching, reverberating organ, hyperspeed vocal stutters, and nosediving square waves, while the ambient "Wit U" tips a hat to Lopatin's Oneohtrix Point Never. Both create a sense of drama that arches over the rhythm tracks and lends them extra purpose.
Raw Solutions' roots may lie in footwork, but Balasanov sounds liberated from genre specifics. Where many similar hybrids are too cerebral or schizophrenic, his album is impressively tactile, and laced with a genuinely passionate pulse.
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Tracklist: Slava - Raw Solutions 01. Werk
02. Girl Like Me
04. I Know
05. Girls On Dick
07. On It
08. Hold On
09. Crazy Bout U
10. How U Get That
12. Wit U
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