It's nearly impossible to talk about Josh Wink without mentally referencing the acidic caterwaul of his '95 hit, "Higher State of Consciousness"; a record so successful that it has often managed to overshadow 15 subsequent years of hard work and underground dance hits. Wink, to his credit, has ignored the preconceptions of those only familiar with his days as a dread-locked dance pin-up—preferring to pursue his own path instead of attempting to recapture past glories.
His latest release, When a Banana Was Just a Banana, sits comfortably in the grey area between house and techno—a niche that has seen the city of Mannheim become a key dance music metropolis in recent years. Banana is no mere reaction to current trends, however. It's a continuation of the work Wink has been putting out since 1989.
Banana kicks off with "Airplane Electronique," a track with classic, skippy Master At Work style snares that double up while the melody is twisted and tweaked Gabriel Ananda style; making the track seem pleasingly discordant in places before snapping rigidly back into shape. The claps leap from the speakers and beats halt and rapidly restart in a most funky fashion, giving the tune an almost broken drum pattern in places amongst the constant 4/4 pulse.
As "Airplane" leads into "Counter Clock 319," the tempo slows dramatically so that the two can be mixed together. The CD version of the album is a continuous set ala the Fabric mixes of Omar-S and Ricardo Villalobos, and it's a key to why Banana works, allowing Wink the opportunity to inject the musical diversity and bombastic energy levels he delivers in his DJ sets; something that many high profile DJ/producers consistently fail to deliver on their own artist albums.
The result is an undulating, hypnotic but ultimately highly energetic affair. "Counter Clock 319" is a pulsing, clattering, slow-mo demon that wouldn't be out of place in a Dixon set. "What Used to Be" starts off sounding like a Mood II Swing track but ends up introducing a chirruping 303 acid line. "Dolphin Smack," which offers respite with its extended spaced out breakdown, sounds like a lost Nick Holder track with shades of a steroid-filled Manuel Tur. We then get a run of tracks that each have facets of Cevin Fisher's '96 tribal house, modern techno white noise wonkiness and timeless Chicago house bump—elements from the aforementioned Mannheim playbook—before "Stay Out All Night," a record that was inescapable in 2008 but whose rich analogue musicality and classic house groove makes it a welcome finisher.
When a Banana Was Just a Banana is an accomplished album that manages to weave its single tracks into something greater than the sum of its parts. Despite not containing anything as immediate as "Higher State" or even "Don't Laugh," it still manages to sit amongst Wink's very best work.
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Tracklist: Josh Wink - When A Banana Was Just A Banana 01. Airplane Electronique
02. Counter Clock 319
03. What Used to Be Called Used to Be
04. Jus' Right
05. Dolphin Smack
06. Minimum 23
07. Everybody to the Sun
09. Stay Out All Night