- One of the year's most exciting production debuts.
- Sherelle Thomas, AKA SHERELLE, must have felt a slight sting of irony when Riri Hylton's Breaking Through profile ran on March 12, 2020, the day before the world shut down. But even with these tectonic forces working against her, there wasn't much that was going to keep Thomas bound to our musical stratosphere. COVID be damned, her star has only continued to rise over the past 18 months. From her Radio 1 residency and the ascendancy of her 6 Figure Gang, to the releases on her label Hooversound, Thomas has conquered the known DJ world. And now she turns in a debut EP that infuses her penchant for faster BPMs with bright bursts of color, resulting in a wonderfully weird EP of contemporary club music.
Thomas was first exposed to dance music via jungle, made her initial bones as a DJ spinning Chicago house and then discovered what would become her true love: juke and footwork. This love of Black music from both sides of the Atlantic runs across the EP. Both tracks touch on footwork tempos, while the melancholy chords conjure the richness of Midwestern dance music. And, in the right hands, you could imagine the title track, once it finds its groove around two minutes in, being mixed by a jungle DJ. But 160 DOWN THE A406 carves out its own space. There is an anxiousness in the brush of snares that start "160 DOWN THE A406," while the ascending three chord melody and vocal cry gives the song a pensive undercurrent. The B-Side, "Rhythm Love (Feel It)" uses the same elements, but starts with more decidedly footwork-esque kicks.
Thomas has said that this record was not intended to mirror her DJing or her A&R work, but instead to "be different." As she explains in the liner notes, "I feel like I rarely show a softer, emotive side to the world, and these tracks are supposed to be warm and forgiving." And from the frisky melodies peaking out beneath the 160 BPM tempos to the record sleeve with three pictures of Thomas grinning in Christmas sweaters, this is a record that isn't just warm, but intimate, a wonderful personal introduction to Thomas as a producer.
01. 160 DOWN THE A406
02. RHYTHM LOVE (FEEL IT)