Justin Robertson has been toiling away in the dance scene since the heyday of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s Madchester scene (yes, Andrew Weatherhall isn’t the only survivor), shifting through an eclectic mix of styles over the years that has demonstrated a restless creative spirit. While newcomer Daniel Avery might not be steeped into the same amount of history, he has quickly made his presence known through a residency at London’s infamous Fabric nightclub, and fittingly enough, received praise from Weatherhall himself. Here the two team together once again as Daniel Avery & The Deadstock 33′s to craft a record that attempts to mix the allure of vintage house with a modern electro touch.
Opener “Nylon Icon” is the EP’s title track. It’s built on a sturdy 4×4 beat and squelchy bass notes that eventually give way to a squiggly, psychedelic synth line. Curiously, the track’s strongest melody is only given a short amount of time to breathe and tucked away near the end. “New Moon” is a percussive house number with driving electro bass and synths that sound as if they had been carried over from the previous track. It finds its best groove nearly four minutes in, yet unfortunately, quickly returns to its original beat. Both tracks appear to lack that something. All the right pieces are there, but suffer from an identity crisis due to haphazard arrangements that fail to stir the body or mind. “Eric Zann Revisted” fares the best out of three, primarily due to its simplicity. While nothing spectacular, this laidback electro number has a rhythm that perfectly simulates the feeling of driving, forgoing the previous songs’ experimental tendencies for something more direct and immediate.
This Gomma Records EP comes accompanied with two remixes. Filthy Dukes take a stab at “Eric Zann Revisted” by trying to rev up the song’s dancefloor instincts. They introduce a more varied percussive pallet and make the track’s bass presence a little more upfront, generally succeeding. However, the real winner is People Get Real‘s remix of “New Moon.” The song is reimagined as a slow-burning house number that gains more and more steam as it progresses. Unlike the original producers, they know how to skillfully add new layers and sounds into the mix in a seamless manner that does not kill any momentum.
Daniel Avery and Justin Robertson are two very talented men with deep record collections and tastes, which might be to their fault when trying to combine forces. The EP’s tracks attempt to cram in too much with little concern for flow or cohesion. Perhaps this was a marriage not meant to be, or they just have not figured out a winning formula yet.