Has anyone got a name for this stuff yet? ‘Indietronica’, ‘electro-indie’, ‘glo-fi’ or (please no!) ‘chillwave’ just aren’t cutting it, and it’s getting boring having to say something sounds a bit like The XX/Metronomy/James Blake/SBTRKT/whatever.
But this music – delicate programmed beats, lots of reverb, restrained but emotive Thom Yorke-ish vocals, hefty sub-bass tones, you know the drill – is very definitely a thing now. It’s nothing new to this duo, though: Luca Santucci’s stunningly controlled and intense vocals could be heard over braincell-tickling electronic beats back when James Blake’s voice hadn’t yet broken.
Indeed, if you listened blind now to some of his tracks with criminally underrated producer Leila on WARP and Rephlex from 1998, you might well think they were from the further edges of today’s music. Still, there are no prizes for being early in the creative industries, unless you can prove you’re still relevant when the cycles of fashion eventually come around to your sound.
So it’s good timing that Santucci has hooked up with journeyman musician/producer Ben Fitzgerald, with whom he’s cooked up an intensely sensual and involving twist on the electro-indie-bass-or-whatever-we’re-calling-it thing. The rhythms on this album pull off The XX’s trick of stripping back to almost nothing yet somehow still seeming big; the louder you play it, the more it envelops you. But they’re also slinkier than most of their contemporaries, so even on a super-slow jam like ‘Head On’ or the most delicate tracks like ‘Blow’, there’s a sense of dancefloor wriggle and jiggle pushing the feeling on. A floating cover of Reuben Bell’s 1967 soul weepy ‘It’s Not That Easy’ demonstrates how schooled they are in a vintage sense of groove, but also how modernist they’re capable of sounding.
Call their style what you like, this is a luscious record.
File under: Sensitive grooves
Like This? Try: Leila 'Like Weather' (Rephlex)
Download: 'Penetrate', 'It's Not That Easy', 'Blow', 'To Catch a Spark'
Download 'Starting Block' from their new EP here.