- Lee Foss' debut EP last fall introduced his style as a kind of sultry, druggy tech-house—call it sexy but unsettling. His new EP for Hot Creations (his label with Jamie Jones, his partner in the duo Hot Natured) takes a left turn into slower, sunnier fare. Most hints of techno have faded away in favor of relaxed, spring-loaded house grooves touched up with R&B and freestyle.
"U Got Me" is the standout, at least for vocal fans. It feels like an edit, taking shape out of a handful of looped vocal phrases that sound like they come from '80s or '90s R&B. The background is a spongy bed of choruses of "You are the one" and "I don't," spun into ambiguously amorous mantras; the foreground offers a male lead singing "Do you want me" and something like "Believe it" (or "You're leaving"?). Coherence is less important than the overall effect of a kind of delirious excess. The treatment on the vocals—filters and pitch-correction squeezing them like trick balloons—works well too, with the focus constantly shifting. What ironists would have rendered as cheese, from the bedroom falsetto to the cheap bass and DX7 chimes, comes across as sincere, sweet nostalgia.
"Run Around" takes the a cappella from Teddy Riley and Tammy Lucas' 1992 track "Is It Good to You"—a not unsurprising source, given Foss' professed love of new jack swing—and writes a new track around it, creating spindly counterpoints out of a perky bassline and bright toms. After the Soul Clap flap, it's a not uncontroversial move, but everything from the chord changes to the cadence is Foss', and his selective use of the vocals puts a considerably different spin on them.
"Happen for a Reason" sounds like Foss' homage to Todd Edwards, with trilling vocal effects and chopped up piano chords and drum breaks, with Foss' own signature evident in the spry, melodic bassline and layers of bright keyboards. His productions aren't the most finessed in the world, but there's something endearing about their slightly clunky grooves and mixdown."Chic Sheik," meanwhile, offers a shuffling groove made of drum machines and chopped breaks; its salient feature is a minor-key synthesizer progression that apes Mathew Jonson's Middle Eastern funk. Many DJs will probably find it a safer bet, but it's far less satisfying than the fresher, less conventional sounds of the rest of the EP.
A1 U Got Me
A2 Run Around
B1 Happen for a Reason
B2 Chic Sheik