- State-of-the-art analogue grooves.
- Sometime shortly after he released his 2016 emotional opus, There Is No Right Time, Ewan Smith's music began to change. Perhaps the Yorkshire producer was finally settling into his adopted Berlin home, or maybe it was the company he was starting to keep through his fledgling Small Hours label. Whatever it was, things got a little groovier: his drums sounded crunchier, his melodies funkier, the bass warmer. Smith encapsulates this new direction on the Leeds-based promoter-turned-label Butter Side Up. The imprint has been building a reputation as buy-on-site thanks to killer releases from the likes of Sweely and Liquid Earth, but even those hefty slabs of wax pale next to these four best-in-class belters.
From the opening notes of the bass on "Thyme Capsule," it’s clear that this is a record best enjoyed while in a sweaty room with strangers. The title track is pure analogue fun with a steel drum interpolation giving it an extra summer sunshine flavor. "Scissor Juice" has some slightly overcast chords, but a bassline more rubbery than flubber is a reminder that we're here for a good time, not a long time.
Smith keeps the party rocking even when he knocks down the BPM a notch or two as we see on the record's best track, "Slow Down." This unexpected collaboration with Art Feynman (of Here We Go Magic fame) is a slowed breakbeat burner, its dubbed vocal giving the song a trip-hop texture. But even in this template Smith is restlessly kinetic, the song taps perfectly into that energy right when the warm-up DJ decides it's time to get the evening going proper. Whatever Smith is having, I'll take one (or two).