Black Jazz Consortium - Structure

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  • Words like "smear" often come up when discussing Fred P's Black Jazz Consortium project, the music described as though it were some house equivalent of shoegaze. While that's a bit imprecise, it points in the right direction. The ever-present haze of gauzy vintage keys and inside-voice drumming that BJC favors conjure a soft focus that's at the heart of what are, more often than not, wonders of groove-based introspection. Take, for example, "New Horizon" from this year's excellent EP of same name. A thumping urgency drives the track, but it regularly steps out of the way to highlight airy analog chords that sound both melancholy and awe-struck. There's a building tension and a series of big, soaring crescendos—not to mention a brisk rhythm—but the prevailing mood is decidedly pensive. If you know that track, you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Structure, which compiles that and ten other choice selections for a sort of recent-career-overview that stakes a claim on a signature sound all BJC's own, and applies it liberally to a range of formulas. "Deep Love" opens the record with a stuttering hi-hat before introducing a laid-back, dreamy keyboard melody, a pairing with echoes of Mo' Wax. "Tribal Dance" jerks with an almost-jacking beat and a party-startin' "It Takes Two" low end, though it drips with eerie, ominous atmospherics. "Levels" has a vintage techno feel, marrying African rhythm and laptop plink beneath a colorful layer of Vangelis tones, while low swells of ponderous bass rumble beneath. The beat on "I Want That" has an anxious, terse energy to it but, when the keys roll in like fog, things take a more relaxed turn. "Living the Dream," on the other hand, is delicious deep house melodrama, an irresistible disco bass line nestled under frantically overwrought strings. Then there's the Uzuri-style tech-house of "Teapot Science," with its sci-fi zaps, dull throbs and genial pads. "Watching You Vouge" seemed to dominate discussion of the New Horizon EP, and understandably so. It stands out here as the "jam track," Fred P decorating one of his sturdier beats with a noodling keyboard solo. Not afraid to get loose—even a little unkempt—it's important to emphasize that he does so, as usual, without sacrificing or diluting the tight funk groove he used to hook us in the first place. As generous as Structure's feast is, though, the two- to four- track 12-inch still seems the ideal helping. While Structure's tracks readily complement one another, this feels more like a portable highlights reel than a single long-form statement. But whether or not you'll always be ready to sit through the entire 75 minutes in a single go, this isn't a record of highs and lows. Anywhere you dip into this steady collection, you'll have arrived at a first-class pull from a legacy long revered most everywhere underground house is spun.
  • Tracklist
      01. Deep Love 02. New Horizon 03. Teapot Science 04. Tribal Dance 05. Levels 06. I Want That 07. Something Old 08. Watching You Vouge 09. The Tittle 10. Living the Dream 11. What's Up with the Love