Paul Nolan – Archetypes EP (Bedrock)
John Digweed‘s Bedrock Records is a real mainstay of a certain sound of electronic music. It has a tremendous output but still manages to catch my attention on most releases.
This release in-particular is a definite stand-out for several reasons. Paul Nolan is well known on the scene as a charismatic engineer having worked with many of electronic music’s leading artists. He is also a coach (Make Your Transition) and blogger and has a significant presence. Paul’s own transition from sound engineer to artist is an interesting one and shows that putting yourself out there pays off. Paul has also presented a ‘break down’ of how the track was made in a video tutorial which is a significant bonus to producers, to not just hear the finished product but see how it was made.
The story goes that a mutual friend of John‘s heard the tracks just after they were finished and sent them on to John who immediately signed them. This is quite a vote of confidence from such a legendary DJ but really it’s the tracks themselves that stand up to scrutiny.
This release is uncomplicated, just how it should be. Two original tracks, both strong and no remixes. The lead track ‘Form Constants’ is an instant, progressive-house, large-moment, smasher. It’s no surprise that ‘Form Constants’ was attractive to Bedrock as a label, the sound has cleverly captured the nostalgia from back in the day and catapulted it into the present with current technology and production techniques. If I said the whole track was made in the box (purely on a computer) would that surprise you? Well maybe me too, because it sounds deep and round, with rumbling bass and tumbling arpeggios that you would normally have credited with a Moog or any number of high end hardware synthesizers.
What Paul does so well is to stick with a fairly small number of sounds in ‘Form Constants’ and play with them to create a big overall, structure and master sound. What is there, bass, synth melody, arpeggio, drums and percussion are more than enough to make a huge, bassbin-rumbling sound. It’s large, I would say pretty much anthemic.
The second track ‘Warrior’ is a no holds barred, progressive-techno crossover. The intro lulls you into a false sense of security, because ‘Warrior’ is just that. It’s there, in your face and begging for trouble. The insistent synth riff just keeps on, taunting and becoming more distorted, the percussion goading it and whipping it into a frenzy. It’s relentless at this stage, more techno than progressive, a peak-time moment when programmed correctly.
If I’m to be honest I was partly interested in this release because I wanted to know if Paul Nolan had the talent to be more than than an engineer for big name artists. The conclusion is that he does, he has that undefinable element that makes a great artist. It seems natural, it is not forced, just a stream of consciousness that translates into lovely. solid tracks with a remit to move the floor.
A brilliant first release and I’m sure there will be many more to come.