- Leif only released one record in 2016, but what a record. Rhythmically bold but melodic and propulsive, and with Leif's trademark affable mood, spring's Macro Beat was a career highlight that popped up in DJ sets for the rest of the year. The British producer enters 2017 with an equally strong gambit. The July V / Shoulders Back 10-inch launches the new TIO-Series, and its vivid collage sleeve, by Gethin Moller, sheathes a pair of even more striking tracks.
As is increasingly the case with Leif, it's hard to know where to place them. "July V," with its rounded low-end and sloping halftime rhythm, might be a kind of dub. Over the top, synth arps form strange undulating patterns that shift like sand dunes in strong wind. Sometimes they're bright and twinkling, sometimes dissonant. Underneath, a battery of shakers, cowbells and toms keep things moving. The controlled chaos builds and subsides, allowing a cool bassline and a hint of a melody to space out the midsection.
"Shoulders Back" is stranger still. Its bell-like tones, arranged into a dense mosaic of cross-rhythms, recall the decentred rhythm-scapes of Don't DJ. But there's a Leif touch to the track's luminous beauty, particularly as a smudged melody saturates the mix in the breakdown. And as he teases in more cross-rhythms—a gritty chord stab here, an unspooling thread of shakers and claps there—he clings to a house-applicable groove. Like Macro Beat before it, I can't wait to spend the rest of the year hearing this on all manner of dance floors.
A July V
B Shoulders Back