- Trevor Deep Jr's debut album is, to use a football manager's expression, a game of two halves. The first four tracks on TDJ are carefully crafted house with misty synth melodies. The second half shows off a wider repertoire: dub techno ("Nina Dub"), jazzy house ("Roba Rouge") and atmospheric R&B ("Let You End"). This severe sequencing seems to reflect the record's user-friendly approach: "here's my regular stuff, here's some other stuff."
TDJ is essentially a double pack made with DJs in mind, and if you treat it as such then there's a lot to like. One of its most enjoyable tracks, "Qwa," features manicured acid loops topped up with a thin, glassy synth and a chiming melody—it's Chicago house with a showroom polish. "Uv" and "Kreuzberg," like "Qwa," move elegantly, but the extra zip on "Empty"'s pinched bassline and staggering toms makes it the best of these three.
The collaborative section of TDJ brings the Finnish producer out of himself. "Nina Dub," featuring King Shorty, channels something of the Burial Mix sound—the bassline grinds just beneath the surface, but its metallic chords come in sharp bursts rather than gentle waves, and its drums are active and alert. "Roba Rouge," aided by a jazz ensemble, is breezy and likeable, but it's the following track, "Let You End," that really grabs you. It applies only the lightest touches—pruned Rhodes keys, a sparing funk guitar bassline, and a silky synth—to Niko Marks's despairing vocal. It's a great contemporary R&B track, but its presence raises some wider questions. "Let You End" is an uneasy fit for the tone TDJ initially sets, and I wonder whether it could've formed the basis of a record that better reflected the sort of artistic ambition Trevor Deep Jr occasionally shows here. What we're left with, in the end, is an impressive clutch of high-spec DJ tools plus one great song, but you sense TDJ could have been more than that.
05. Nina Dub feat. King Shorty
06. Roba Rouge feat. TDJ Jazz Outfit
07. Let You End feat. Niko Marks