- After making a few appearances on Andy Blake's now-shuttered Dissident label in 2008, Helium Robots, AKA Ewan Willmott and Lydia Jones, pretty much went silent. Returning to the world late last year on the maxi-single for Lana Del Rey's "Video Games" of all places, the project is back in earnest with an EP for the perennially on-point Running Back. Unless their Dissident sides never dislodged themselves from your memory (or, for that matter, if you're an LDR completest), your interest may initially be piqued by Theo Parrish's two remixes on the B-side, because, well, it's Theo Parrish. But you'd be a fool to sleep on the A: it's there that Helium Robots' originals lie, and they truly steal the show.
"Crepitation" and "Jarza" are, at their heart, pop music, albeit of a sort you're not likely to hear on any mainstream FM station save those of you who've found a wormhole to 1986. The former spends most of the track fighting back against downtrodden Wurlitzer chords. At a breakdown halfway through, as the keys begin undulating, the clouds seem to have finally parted, only to once again fall into a minor key. Still, it's not so much bummed as it is serious, with a virtuosic bassline hammering home the funk. "Jarza" traverses similar but more anthemic terrain, breaking down longer and finishing bigger than its counterpart, though never at the expense of its shuffling, grid-skirting beat. Parrish's two "Jarza" remixes are certainly no slouches, but in bringing the original material so firmly over into his universe—it's like "Jarza" has been filched from a ghettoblaster's tape deck and implanted into Parrish's cerebral cortex—he's scrubbed out something of the original's charm. In the context of a Parrish DJ set, with the selector's hands superglued to the EQ, they probably sound unstoppable. But taken on their own terms, Helium Robots' originals will charm you to the end of the earth.
B1 Jarza (Theo Parrish Translation 1)
B2 Jarza (Theo Parrish Translation 2)