- Observances may sound like a rather tired proposition on paper. Producer Ed Gillett's debut EP as Shape Worship is far from ground-breaking, consisting largely of mellifluous electronica in the vein of, say, Four Tet, and with a similar taste for 2-step rhythms and detailed sample bricolage. If anything, Gillett's particular schtick feels a little outmoded. Something in the textural richness and harmonic warmth of these productions seems to suggest that it could've been made five years ago as plausibly as five months.
This is not to say that the EP isn't without its charms. Put simply, it's tremendously difficult not to like Observances, so adroitly constructed is it, so pleasing are its constituent parts. As tropes, delicately pitch-shifted vocals and house- and garage-derived rhythmic templates have been worn down to the bone in recent years, but Gillett steers clear of cliché, finding subtle freshness at every turn. Partly this is due to his skill as an arranger: each track is fleshy, a rich sensory experience, whether it's a beatless interlude (the crepuscular "Seaglass") or a more robust workout ("Air White Smoke Signal," "Concentration"). But it also stems from a knack for marrying the synthetic—bold, pearlescent synth leads and arpeggios, ample sub-bass—with the organic, particularly samples of non-Western instruments. Even when that combination tips over into New Age cheese (as in the opening of "Quilt") it succeeds, improbably, in staying just the right side of overblown. Granted, in their unfailing sweetness there is a tendency for these tracks to wander into turgidity, but Observances is, in the main, an overwhelmingly agreeable listen.
B1 Air White Smoke Signal