- Hessle Audio's most thought-provoking release of the year.
- Much of Hessle Audio's discography is designed to challenge and reward dance floors, rewiring our idea of what's possible in the dance. Shelley Parker's Red Cotton continues this tradition, but it's an outlier in the label's catalogue. Parker's music comes off like a wraith stalking an abandoned factory, a furtive messenger beaming grainy transmissions from somewhere out of sight. There's a cavernous absence to the music that gestures towards depopulated terrain, but there's also real propulsion—an energised, rustling restlessness that recalls Wireless-era T++. Like that record, Red Cotton subtly communicates a jumbled web of times and places, flattening and massaging difference into a coherent assemblage.
The title track sounds like Parker pilfered a metalworks. Mixing this storm and clang with engaged rhythms and bottomless basslines has been an emergent thread in her work, but it's crystallised best here. A quivering sense of weight pushes down on the mix, especially during "Angel Oak"'s bass blasts, but there's light in this tunnel, courtesy of tonal, albeit mangled, chords scraping across the mix.
Ploy's remix packages Parker's sounds into a recognisably Hessle-ised framework. It's up to his usual lofty standards, but the contrast with Parker's originals is telling. Where Parker's productions thrive by feeling like autonomous mechanisms coaxed into motion, Ploy's tightly controlled, and admittedly thrilling, programming reminds us that there's a human at the controls. There's nothing inherently superior to either approach—their juxtaposition merely highlights a difference in mentality. But it's Parker's approach that makes Red Cotton Hessle Audio's most thought-provoking release of the year.
A1 Red Cotton
A2 Angel Oak
B1 Angel Oak (Ploy Remix)
B2 Masonry Pier