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Will Ward – Violiner/Concentrated

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Score: 7/10Label: Deadplate Records 

Deadplate Records, the imprint that gave some of our first taste of artists such a Hodge and Artifakt, return with, surprisingly –  given the quality of its output this far – their first record of the year, Will Ward’s (one third of electronica group ‘Circle Traps’ – a group that boast two members of the esteemed Portico Quartet within its ranks) debut 12”, the deadly ‘Violiner/Concentrated’.

Ward’s group’s debut offerings 2011’s ‘Fjord’ and more recently, 2013’s ‘Obelisk’ released on Opit Records and Five Easy Pieces respectively, despite receiving positive reviews across the board due to the sheer beauty and mastery of sound they delivered, were almost derided as being derivative offerings, wearing their influences of Mount Kimbie, Four Tet and even Burial a little too proudly on their sleeves to be considered truly innovative or original. What was never in doubt however was how well they put their music together and how captivating their melodies and skewed approximations of 2-step were.

Opening number ‘Violiner’, does little to shake of Ward’s tag as a purveyor of atmospheric garage permutations, but like Circle Traps it almost doesn’t matter, so crisp, clean and emotive the producer clearly is. The track takes it time to get started, with almost a minute and a half of basically beatless, soaring atmospherics and undefined vocal snatches that loop and buzz in and around the tunes’ slowly pulsing, bass driven heart-beat, before a solitary hi-hat hints at the track’s dancefloor potential. A languid drum track, ambles into existence providing an unhurried   rhythmic bed for the dominant pads, the now, at points, rubbery bassline and the twinkling high-end melodics to play off, finishing the track off in a delightfully “5am on dancefloor” manner.

Concentrated’ – the tougher more DJ friendly weapon of the pair – combines, stomping, dusty warehouse ready kicks, shuffly, burial-esq mid-range hats, hissy, analogue backdrops – comprised of, in equal measures, delicate pads, vocal snippets and hardware white noise – and emotive scraps of synth work that come together to creating a pounding, ambient techno number primed for both armchair enjoyment and dancefloor destruction. A great track that reminds me of some of the best times I have had in a club and at home afterwards.

Yes the tracks are slightly derivative, and you will have definitely heard tunes like these before. It is doubtful however that you will have heard many that have been executed as well as these before. ‘Concentrated’ especially, is a number, which for me, has a timeless quality to it that is hard to quantify, especially if you have been on the clubbing circuit for nearly 15 years like I have been.  It almost references and paints a picture of a fuzzy, hedonistic, steampunk version of what the future might have been if the establishment had gotten behind the rave scene and all of its variant offspring  right from the beginning, instead of lumbering us with the oppressive ‘Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994.’ It’s playful and nostalgically emotional at the same time, which marks it and its creator out as something quite special. A top release from a burgeoning label, that despite a recent lull in its release schedule, continues to go from strength to strength.

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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