Incorporating supposed footwork influences is fast becoming one of the bigger trends in UK dance music, whether it's intentional or simply invented by eager journalists desperate to construct a narrative. Regardless, there's something happening, with more and more UK producers and DJs mixing footwork into their sets. Garage producer Jamie Grind has gone so far as to call his latest EP Footwork, and its tracks should ostensibly carry some trace of the rogue Chicago dance scene. While I'm going to go out on a limb and say footwork elements aren't as well-represented as Mr. Grind thinks they are, there are certain footwork tics and characteristics buried in his nu-garage, and not always smoothly.
The track "Footwork" itself is your typical UK garage-revival track: dulled kicks, swelling synths and strings, and vocal snippets. But here the vocals are more hyperactive than usual, cut up in the same repetitive barrage as in footwork itself. The effect is simply unpleasant when the wordless moans are sandwiched between the folds of Grind's much slower and more structured beats (on "Now You Know" the result is even more aggravating). The flurries of ticking toms feel merely ornamental, and it's only when the tune breaks out into an instrumental passage at its close that it sounds at all complete. The drum machine domination of "Without You," on the other hand, is merely decent; it sounds like Grind's typical work with superficial stylistic additions.
The EP is salvaged by its standout "Saw the Light," a collaboration with fellow young UK producer Hackman, and the two producers capably work off of each other's strengths. The track struts with Hackman's funky-influenced style and the rolling bass left over from his dubstep days, replete with a gracefully processed and triumphant vocal phrase and canned orchestral flourishes. "Saw the Light" is a keeper, but I'm not so sure about the rest.
Tracklist: Jamie Grind - FootworkA Jamie Grind - Footwork
AA Jamie Grind and Hackman - Saw The Light
B Jamie Grind - Without You
BB Jamie Grind - Now You Know