Cobblestone Jazz is a collaboration between Danuel Tate, Tyger Dhula and Vancouver techno wunderkind Mathew Jonson. In a dance music world dominated by lone auteurs and studio whizzkids, they are something of an anomaly: their tracks are not preconceived, but rather the result of a series of live improvisations. They operate as a band, Dhula and Tate manning laptop and keys while Jonson works the drum machines and SH-101 that have brought him such renown as a solo artist.
'India in Me' is their fourth 12" release, and their second on Jonson's Wagon Repair label. True to their name, previous releases have been a jazzy, loose take on minimal house, but 'India in Me' abandons this blueprint in favour of a more exotic, eastern-influenced sound. This is essentially a one-track release: both sides of the record are improvisations around the same theme – the A-side is straight and driving while the B loses some bass and pushes the syncopation. The untrained ear might find it difficult to tell the two apart, but the subtle differences would give the record great flexibility in a mix.
The track opens with a stuttered flute-like melody reminiscent of Sufi music, around which Jonson weaves a twisting, serpentine 101 line whilst percussion skitters diagonally between the notes. The overall effect is mesmerisingly organic: over the course of thirteen minutes the group manipulates these elements skillfully, slowly ramping up the tension by carefully tweaking the low end before bringing the track to its peak with an unexpectedly straight acid line. The rhythmic dissonance between this acid element and the rest of the instruments lifts the track from merely good to sublime, and the B-side exaggerates this even further, the light and airy beat serving to amplify the effect of the peak.
This is a release with precedence in Jonson's previous work. He’s experimented with middle-eastern melodies before (most notably in 'Return of the Zombies Bikers') and the beats will also not be unfamiliar, but it’s the subtlety with which all these elements are combined that differentiates Cobblestone Jazz from Jonson's solo work. The balance between looseness and detail that the group's working method produces is a rare thing in dance music. I look forward to hearing how they develop it further.
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