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Andrew Benson – Dope (Particles)

Proton’s excellent sub-label Particles returns with a full release of Andrew Benson’s ‘Dope’ from the ‘Summer Particles’ compilation earlier this year, with remixes from Damien Moreno and Namatjira.

Andrew Benson’s original isn’t really my kind of progressive house, since I tend towards the more understated end of things. But I have to say, as a piece of big, mainroom proggy fair it’s pretty irresistible. The twin pulsing basslines really work well, carrying a strong chord progression that provides a great backdrop for the rest of the track. ‘Dope’ really gets going around the two minute mark, with punchy percussion and a floaty melody complementing the bass work really well. It also climbs out of its breakdown down very nicely, effortlessly regaining its momentum for the final assault, while clever little drops and false-starts keep things exciting throughout. As I say, it’s not the kind of record I’d play myself, but very enjoyable stuff from Andrew Benson nonetheless.

Damien Moreno’s remix should in theory be more my bag, but I found his version a bit disappointing, sadly. There are some nice ideas on show, including a dreamier interpretation of the main melody. But sadly the production lets it down, particularly the rather toneless and shapeless bassline, tinny hi-hat sound, and a looped vocal sound that starts around two and half minutes and spoils much of the rest of the track. The breakdown is pretty pleasant, and the final minute is surprisingly lovely, with Moreno bringing some elegant string sounds and chimes to the fore to close the remix out. But overall this is a miss for me.

Namatjira’s remix is more my speed than Andrew Benson’s original, both literally and metaphorically; he drops the tempo down to a nicely restrained 121bpm, and turns ‘Dope’ firmly into deep, subtle morsel of laid-back progressive goodness. Everything here is kept beautifully simple, from the stripped-down bassline to the gentle, interwoven melody lines. About three minutes in the remix starts to cautiously echo the chord changes from the original, before a brief breakdown sets up the equally blissed-out second half. This isn’t a peak-time record by any stretch of the imagination, but that only goes to show that sometimes the most golden moments will inevitably fall earlier on in the night.

This is a nice EP from Particles with Andrew Benson supplying an energetic original, and providing the raw materials for an outstanding remix from Namatjira. 8/10

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