- It's safe to say that a kind of mythic consciousness pervades Gavin Russom's artistic practice. The track list of his last project, Black Meteoric Star, allegorized a long night out in mythic form, a night that began with the club entrance as "Death Tunnel" survived a "World Eater," and ended at "Dawn." And while its all-analogue tingle and squelch marked a direct line to Chicago acid, BMS didn't simply feel like acid house itself, but a kind of kabbalistic rereading of acid as a tradition, where all of the elements that made it a tradition were replayed with their ritualistic aspects cranked up. Russom's latest release welds the mythic to the urban in a similar manner: working as The Crystal Ark, whose first of three projected singles is titled "The City Never Sleeps."
"The City Never Sleeps" sees Russom applying lessons gleaned from his earlier explorations of acid and '70s synth-psychedelia towards something more boldly original and forward-thinking, a rolling, psychedelic banger that transfigures its influences into something invigoratingly new. The Crystal Ark sees Russom's interest in ritual extended to ethnographic appropriation, here specifically the musical languages of Brazil, where a recent visit inspired him to incorporate the energies of Carioca Funk, atabaque drumming, Tropicalia and South American style rave into his creative practice. What's more, Russom specifically lists Phantasia's early 90s Belgian acid 12-inches "Inner Light" and "Violet Skies" as influences, and it's not a difficult lineage to detect, as "The City Never Sleeps" brims with a similarly devilish intensity and cosmic expanse. When Viva Ruiz's Spanish vocals and Russom's prickly synths ultimately wrestle for supremacy it becomes a clever, timely update of early vocal acid.
The track moves from stripped-down acid, through weirdo disco to vocal house with the steady, hushed concentration of a peyote ritual. Tension builds along a broad and careful trajectory, gathering all sorts of energy like a Tesla coil, leaving you with hairs prickled on your neck, waiting for lightning to strike. An opening techno groove creeps with swooping filters to the four minute mark where Ruiz's vocals and some exotic percussion bonk portend what's to come—once they enter the scene, you realize you've left safe confines behind. An additional male vocal—"Open the door, don't you want some more!" ups the sense of Arthur-Russell style unpredictability. I mean, yes there's an instrumental version you can use, but then you're missing a lot of what makes "The City Never Sleeps" such a standout, especially when it barrels into a final fist-pumping chant where vocals and acid squelch churn at full throttle, somewhere on an open plain miles from where you started.
A The City Never Sleeps
B The City Never Sleeps (Instrumental)