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Ioan Gamboa – The Black Sheep (Univack)

Spanish label Univack are back with their 28th release, and this time they turn proceedings over to one of the leading young Spanish producers, Ioan Gamboa, now based in Berlin. Remixes come from DaWad, Integral Bread, and Anatomica.

Regular readers will already know that I regard Ioan Gamboa as one of the most creative and unique producers around, and ‘The Black Sheep’ shows him off at his best once again. An atmospheric intro soon gives way to a growling bassline, heavy stabs, and crisp percussion. The focal point of the track, though, is the twangy, twisted central hook, which sounds for all the world like it went MIA from the opening scene from ‘Paris, Texas’. Ringing out over the driving bassline, the effect is unnerving, exciting and psychedelic. A brief, trippy breakdown set up the second half, which offsets the hook against layers of lovely choral sounds. This is music to get thoroughly, irrevocably lost in – wonderful stuff from Ioan Gamboa once more.

DaWad, sadly celloless for this excursion, offers a gentle breakbeat version of the track, with a pulsing bass part that shifts key while the original’s riff and spacious pads play out overhead. It’s rather pleasant, but I couldn’t help but miss the energy and drive of the original here.

Intriguingly-named Univack-manager Integral Bread takes the track in a melodic techno direction, with a heavy bassline and rippling, psychedelic plucked motifs taking hold before the original’s stabs and melody make an appearance. A nice stripped-down breakdown gives a moment of respite, before the main elements of the track slam back into place while adding high-pitched arpeggiated synths and cool filters into the mix. This is a chunky version that will possibly have the most straightforward club-appeal of the four on offer.

Anatomica’s remix is very stripped back to start off, with just a kick drum and a tuned, plucked hook, but a chugging, rumbling bassline soon creeps in, giving the remix its forward momentum, and accompanied by shimmering synths that fade in and out of the mix. Otherworldly vocal pads appear on top, and together with a clipped take on the original’s hook, these form the focus of the breakdown. The bassline rises out of the breakdown, setting up the equally trippy and spacey second half. There are some nice ideas on show here, and the bassline works really well, but I’d have liked more varied and firmer percussion throughout, and there are a couple of anomalous moments, such as the weird momentary key shift in the middle of the breakdown, that could have been ironed out to give a smoother ride.

Overall, it’s Ioan Gamboa’s version that really makes this package, with the three remixes throwing in some nice new ideas and sounds, but not quite matching the original’s winning combination of energy and atmosphere. 7.5/10


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