- dOP's wonky jazz house is about as fresh as electronic music gets in 2008, and on the I'm Just a Man EP, they're at their very best. Since last year's Between the Blues 12-inch on Circus Company showed a tentatively lopsided and loose take on house, dOP have grown in confidence, and this contribution to Seuil's Eklo imprint may be their strongest EP yet.
The title track is a swooning anthem that's a paean to the limits of our solitary existence. Over a tribal African groove, Jonathan Illel sings "I've been to lands, where birds feel better than the man." It's a lyric with more gravitas than you usually find in house, a track that works just as well as a song. Musically it sounds tighter than dOP's work to date, with plaintive bassy organ tones and rattling percussion creating a wholly unique groove.
"Horns and Roses" meanwhile is a soporific piece of early morning house which sees dOP continuing to bring new elements of jazz to the genre. Low horns practically snore over a deep minimal techno beat, as soft cymbals and drums rain down. It's an incredibly measured and light-fingered piece, with "real instruments" moulded into the disciplined structure of a dance track. Consider this "Between the Blues Pt. 2," a swaggering successor to one of last year's most original records.
Last up is "Like a Motherless Child," a fine record which suffers for an unavoidable similarity to Claude VonStroke's "Who's Afraid of Detroit?" That same thudding, juddering bassline is expertly mixed with what sounds like a sample of a steam engine from an old movie. A bluesy vocal sample heightens the strange 2008 KLF feeling, warbling "sometimes I feel like a motherless child." If you could just stop hearing Claude VonStroke over this, it'd be the perfect end to a brilliant EP, but this writer can't. Still, there's so much individuality on offer in the first two tracks that dOP are easily forgiven. This may be outsider house, but dOP are breaking the door down.
A Horns' N Roses
B1 Like a Motherlesschild
B2 I'm Just a Man