MUUI has already had an amazing 2013, with appearances on the likes on Baires, Flow Vinyl, Stripped, RLS and Outside the Box, a fantastic album on Baroque, a truly memorable series of releases on Lowbit, and a stunning new EP on Crossfrontier Audio dropping next week (more on this next Monday!). Here he delivers CHANGE AUDIO’s second release, following up Mauro Norti’s ‘Placebo’ last month, and he offers up three brand new originals: ‘Wake Up in the Dark’, ‘Speed’, and ‘Sotaque’. Remix duties on ‘Sotaque’ are turned over to a true legend, none other than John ‘Quivver’ Graham.
First up is MUUI’s ‘Wake Up in the Dark’. This track carefully treads a path between tech- and deep-house, keeping the tempo on the lower side and pitching rich rhythmic elements against dubbier tones. A simple but deeply groovy bassline carries the track, with gentle dubby stabs and drifting pads delivering the memorable build-up halfway through. Listen carefully, and you’ll pick up all kinds of other sounds adding texture during the build, including what sound like slivers of football whistles and muted brass. This is subtle, intelligent material that demonstrates MUUI’s craftsmanship and attention to detail, and it will be absolutely perfect for setting the right tone early on.
My personal highlight from the EP is up next, ‘Speed’. This is definitely MUUI at his most menacing. An unnerving low-slung bass and chattering percussion provide the backbone, while intense rising chords offset against paranoid little motifs provide the drama. The breakdown strips the track back to almost nothing, before the elements are reassembled one at a time, starting with the main hook. It’s the most stunning sequence in a disquieting, but totally hypnotic and strangely beautiful track. This is one of MUUI’s most compelling pieces of work so far.
‘Sotaque’ sees MUUI in a different mood yet again, this time offering up wobbly, fluid tech-house. The track builds an immense groove, enriched by twisted sped-up vocal samples and driving stabs, and there’s no denying the excitement provided by the drop halfway through. Overall, though, it didn’t grab me as much as the other tracks on the EP – personally, I could have used a bit more variety across its running time.
I’ve already said my piece on Quivver’s move away from a more melodic sound in an earlier, and I won’t rehearse that here. Whatever one thinks of that issue, I’ve noted before that nobody working today can craft a speaker-crushing, pulse-raising club track quite like he can. Unsurprisingly, his take on MUUI’s ‘Sotaque’ is no exception. After a tense, DJ-friendly intro, the track simply takes off, triggering a wave of bouncy, swinging percussion and a bassline that’s pure swagger. Picking up intensity with all manner of beeps and bleeps and wavering pads, the track drops into a disconcerting breakdown which offers a nod to Quivver’s classic ‘2 Notes ‘n’ a Beat’, before shaking down the listener once more. This is simply thrilling.
CHANGE’s first release was fairly focused on melodic techno, but it’s clear already from this second release that it’s a label that’s going to resolutely refuse to be pigeon-holed. Some people think that genres are dead; I don’t, but it has to be quality that primarily drives what a label releases, not fit with any kind of musical blueprint. And MUUI and Quivver certainly deliver quality here. As I’ve already said, my own pick has to be the superb ‘Speed’, though it’s clearly Quivver’s version of ‘Sotaque’ that’s poised to do the most damage. Get on it! 8.5/10