- Jex Opolis, like a lot of other dance music producers from Western Canada, makes dance music that's so old-fashioned you could easily mistake it for a dollar-bin record. (It makes sense that People's Potential Unlimited, a label that blends obscure reissues with like-minded new music, distributes his Good Timin' imprint.) The New York-based Albertan has established a sound somewhere between disco, early house and the best of '80s synth jams. Jex is a veritable one-man funk band, with the verve and vintage equipment to prove it. He lists all the instruments used to make Circle Of Drums, and there are a lot. The EP, his first since debuting on Running Back last year, showcases his gifts well.
Circle Of Drums features two absolute barnburners, at least in Jex Opolis terms. The title track is layered with bongos and some of his trademark sunset-coloured pads, as well as a virtuosic digi-flute that puts Kygo to shame. It's the perfect Jex Opolis jam because it feels like it's doing nothing and everything at once; slow but remarkably groovy, it subtly kicks into high gear for the second half without so much as a wrinkle in its velour. At the other end of the record sits the other highlight. "That's My Beach" taps into the International Feel vein, with noodling jazz guitar and synth lines taking the scenic route through each measure.
In between those are two rock-solid cuts. "Stay Cold" rolls a fat one from Dâm-Funk's stash, while "Echo Harp" is a jaunty house number, with a snazzy spring in its step and classic, addictive synth runs that effortlessly catch your ear. Jex's best music naturally sounds so unbothered that it would still be enjoyable on autopilot. It's when those extra little pieces fall into place, like the cascading pads on "Circle Of Drums," that his languid jams turn from enjoyable to transcendent.
A1 Circle of Drums
A2 Stay Cold
B1 Echo Harp
B2 That's My Beach