House Music Reviews

King Unique – Some Break the Shell EP (microCastle)

Following on from his massive remix of Jamie Stevens’s ‘The Wonder of You’ last year and his recent update of is own ‘Yohkoh’, and being part of his first new batch of original material since ‘2000000 Suns’, to say that King Unique’s new four-track EP on microCastle has been hotly anticipated is an understatement. The EP sees King Unique try to break away from the tropes people associate him with, and it features the vocal house track ‘Raydrop’, an instrumental version, the melodic breaks track ‘Some Break’, and the ambient composition ‘Without Boxes’.

‘Raydrop (7 Hours)’ is a bouncy, melodic houser, featuring the vocals of longtime collaborator Natalie Arnold (the voice of the classic ‘Black A.M.’, from Matt Thomas’s other project, Waktins, back in 2001). The track itself boasts gently chiming melodies, a supple garagey bassline, and pitch-perfect percussion, which provide the background for the analogue-sounding main theme that complements Arnold’s vocal part really well. The climax sees the synths reach a frenzied, soaring crescendo over the refrain ‘We’ll never be lost’. Bold and heartfelt, this is great stuff from King Unique. The inclusion of a dub version is a good decision, since the vocal won’t appeal to everyone – I’m usually one of those people, and at first I thought I’d prefer the dub here, but actually I’ve found that Natalie Arnold’s vocals grew on me after several listens, and I’d miss them now.

My favourite of the tracks is ‘Some Break’. The percussion sits somewhere between breakbeats and a more traditional four-to-the-floor kick, giving it a lovely skippy feel, while the track soon picks up with an insistent chiming motif and a chugging bassline playing out a strong chord progression. Around the two-minute mark, King Unique starts to layer drifting melodies over the top, and by the breakdown he has added poignant, wavering synths. A really well-chosen and atmospheric vocal sample works a real treat as the track slams back in, delivering an unexpected electro-hit. Understated yet emotional and punchy, this is wonderful stuff from King Unique.

Finally, ‘Without Boxes’ is a gentle piece of ambience, very much in the ‘Mach’ style, as Nigel Tufnell would have it, with simple synth lines gradually interlocking, backed by shimmering countermelodies. It’s a lovely little four-minutes of calm and beauty, tucked away at the end of the EP.

This is a terrific package from King Unique and microCastle, as expected, with ‘Some Break’ providing my own personal highlight. 9/10

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