- Anyone following deep house may have noticed the slow but steady rise of Damon Bell and Khalil Anthony. Oakland's Bell has been at home among the broken beats of AYBEE's Deepblak label since 2009, but in the past year he's released more functional material on Don't Be Afraid and Burek. The Berlin-based Anthony, a vocalist, has worked with thatmanmonkz and Byron The Aquarius, and recently collaborated with Afrikan Sciences. Bell and Anthony operate in the same circles, but the 2 EP is their first release together.
The first minute of "Anniversary" shows they make a good team. Anthony's vocals set a plaintive tone before receding to allow Bell to set up two overlapping motifs. The title references a relationship that's ended, not a thriving one, and the production hints at melancholy with a swirl of wistful melody. Anthony shows restraint with his vocals, and the effects on his voice do just as much work as the lyrics. For the remix, Afrikan Sciences swaps synthesizers for mbira and smartly warps the original into spacey Shangaan electro.
This considered touch is less obvious elsewhere. On the more banging "Black Magic," Anthony crowds an already busy track with boilerplate lyrics about desire, even singing along to marimba when the words disappear. "The Lesson" takes its lyrics from Prince's "I Would Die 4 U" ("I'm not your lover / I'm not your friend / I am something you will never comprehend"). The production, which morphs from rough acid to a bobbing arpeggio, is paired with a vocal that references race and the dangerous consequences of a narrow point of view. The track is clunky, but it makes an essential point.
A2 Black Magic feat. thatmanmonkz
B1 The Lesson
B2 Anniversary (Afrikan Sciences Remix)