Unapologetically old-school house and garage.
Alec Falconer - Boat EP
When it comes to modern takes on UK garage, breakbeat, electro, hardcore and combinations thereof, the acceptable narrative seems to be, "Yes, this is old-school revivalism but there's also some innovation." More subtle updates, perhaps designed for four-on-the-floor-leaning dance floors, also tend to get a pass. (I'm describing my own attitude as much as anyone else's.) In a review of Entity 005 last year, Mark Smith discussed how the UK artist Alec Falconer had successfully blended two-step garage with European minimal house: "the sensibility behind the arrangement and structure is clearly geared for modern DJs seeking a more tracky experience." This approach is yielding some great music at the moment. But on Boat, his new EP for Art Of Dark, Falconer sheds any pretense of a tasteful old-school reconfiguration and simply goes for it, throwing together breakbeats, hardcore, house and garage with abandon.
Boat has vinyl scratching and spin-back effects galore. One track has a hip-house-style vocal ("That's the place where I'm at!"). "Boaty Banger" sounds like 2 Bad Mice's "Bombscare." That one is pretty cunning, actually. It seems Falconer has lost momentum in the track's mid-section, introducing a sad melody and plaintive strings that slow the mood down; as the original groove returns with a smack, you realise this was just a sleight of hand. Peppering the breaks/house roller "FFFF" with old hip-hop samples is, for me, a risk that pays off, though it won't be to all DJs' tastes. "Heck Of A Neck" has similarly styled samples and some scratching, but the acid line leading it feels ponderous. On "Four," Falconer returns to 2-step (a rhythm his Phone Traxxx project with Harry Wills and Rob Amboule is dedicated to) and manages to make a wobbly, speed-garage-style bassline feel calm and contemplative. At the risk of sounding like a kill-joy, this more restrained cut could be the best thing here.
Tue / 25
A1 Boaty Banger
B1 Heck Of A Neck