The debut release from Frank Music—the Franconia collective who'd like, amongst other things, for their region to be known for more than just tasty gingerbread—is divvied up between relative unknown Johannes Albert, and various aliases/comrades/side-projects of up-and-comer Iron Curtis. Despite the handful of names scattered on the B-side of the platter, both of its tracks bear the fingerprints of Iron Curtis himself, with the same diligent, jacking-but-clean tidiness of everything he's produced to date. Curtis joins with Leaves to create a third entity, The Inner Love Orchestra, and their edit of "IV" skips with mid-tempo house mirth and breezy, sweet-scented pads.
The greatest strength of Piafra's re-edit of L'Amour's 1984 electro-disco anthem "Let's Make Love Tonight" is in admitting that there isn't a great deal to improve on from the original. The effect of the rework then is like a favourite musty old item that's finally made it to the dry cleaners: there are fewer dust bunnies and a lighter, brighter step, plus a reshuffle that allows for keytar blasts and slap bass solos to have their moment in the spotlight.
While the presence of Iron Curtis will likely pause fingers flicking through racks and scrolling through pages of new releases, the piqued interest will hopefully flow over to Albert's stellar pair of productions on the A-side. In comparison to his labelmate he seems more quietly knowing, and quite unafraid to slow things down to skank them up a bit. "Been So Strong" provides wonkiness in increments, with teetering, spidery keys, dragged-out handclaps, and what sounds like tweeting birds all weighted down and deeply inebriated.
Then there's "City Chicken Rhythm Express." It largely consists of two sets of key stabs, hand claps and hi-hats, and the occasional papery sweep, but everything else—sung phrases, conversations, a bass line that rotates inwards and downwards—occurs on the utmost periphery. Yet it's neither underdone nor understated, with the young producer mastering a balance of deep swing and tricky tempo with aplomb, proving that cool, head-nodding ease isn't solely the result of many years spent in the game.
Tracklist: Various Artists - Frank Music Volume 1A1 Johannes Albert - Been So Strong
A2 Johannes Albert - City Chicken Rhythm Express
B1 Leaves pres. The Inner Love Orchestra - IV (Iron Curtis Edit)
B2 L'Amour - Let's Make Love tonight (Piafra Edit)
Other Frank Music reviews