- Sunny tunes for festival stages.
- I recently wrote about "Funeral Song" by Whodat and Viola Klein, saying it was "so simple, sunny and arresting that it might be one of the house tracks of the year." It's been only a couple of weeks since then, but with this new EP from the Canadian artist Akufen, we have at least two more contenders. Marc Leclair only releases music sporadically these days, surfacing occasionally to add to a legacy of funky micro house that's made him a cult favourite. My Blue House shows that it's worth being patient with him. Leclair doesn't lean on his signature sample-cut technique so much now, but the warmth and musicality of his best material is burning as brightly as ever.
These two contenders I mention arrive as the first and last tracks on My Blue House. The title track has an opening couple bars that makes you think, "Right, this is gonna be big." That sound is a classic house organ, which is matched with a shuffling beat, an ascending bassline and a blissful piano line. On first listen, you might be tempted to think that the entrance of the strings, straight from the Underground Resistance playbook, is the track's emotional peak, but Leclair has one more trick to pull. He switches the bassline pattern in the breakdown, inducing a breakout of goose bumps and signalling that it's game over. "Play (Never Work Till Monday)" isn't an archetypal summer banger, but it deserves attention come festival season. That's because Leclair makes two particularly intriguing choices: he sharply contrasts techno-style sounds with sunny elements, including a rallying vocal sample, and he switches from an electro beat to a house one halfway through. Both are inspired decisions.
I'm pretty sure there will be people who'd say "Forever In Love With You (To Camille)" is better than those other two, and I'd see where they were coming from. It draws from similar ingredients as "My Blue House," but takes longer to reveal its hand, basking in organ, xylophones and strings before the beat and a wriggling bassline join in. Anyone pining for some Akufen of old should be happy with "You Look Delicious." Leclair cuts up vocal samples like it was 2001, using his trademark sense of playfulness to offset the slightly sinister mood he fashions elsewhere in the track. It offers yet more evidence that Leclair had great ideas to spare in this recording session.
A1 My Blue House
A2 Forever In Love With You (To Camille)
B1 You Look Delicious
B2 Play (Never Work Till Monday)