Brenmar – At It Again review

The more musically broad minded amongst us might recognise Brenmar as the glowstick wielding drummer from arch Brooklyn noise trio These Are Powers. A mainstay of the band over the course of their two albums and numerous EPs, this year however has seen Brenmar break free with his own productions. Early bootleg productions of Cassie and DJ Deeon cut an impressive swathe with taste maker DJs such as Ikonika and Bok Bok flipping them repeatedly, whilst media attention from The Fader and Dazed has added a sense of inevitable momentum.

Recent remixes for Teengirl Fantasy and Gatekeeper have set the tone for Brenmar’s debut EP, delivered courtesy of Swedish blog cum digi label Discobelle. At It Again draws influence from Brenmar’s hometown of Chicago but melds it to the rhythmic thrust currently coursing through the UK underground; taking a full helping of house and layering it with the percussive styles of UK Funky and a liberal dose of R&B vocal sampling.

The title track sets the tone, with some herky jerky synth work and extraordinary percussion the backdrop for a female vocal sample that announces Brenmar’s “At It Again”. Key Juke producers DJ Rashad, DJ Earl and DJ BMT collaborate on a remix of “At It Again”, injecting the track with some BPM fuel, embellishing the percussion with a frenzy of frantic claps and pitched toms. The sampled vocal is pulsed repetitively against the techno synths with a sense of ingenuity that reveals why there is so much attention on this niche Chi town genre.

From this heart racing moment, Brenmar introduces “Taking It Down”, notable for one of this year’s most infectious synth lines that in tandem with the sultry male vocal ride the rasping beat and throwback UKG bass with aplomb; this is likely to be a crowd pleaser. In contrast, “Like It Like That” revels in the dark menace that seeps out of the Dutch house synth work wrapped in jerked Dirty South rap vocal sampling.

“You Make Me Say” sits somewhere between the dark menace and sultry bounce of the previous two tracks, and is characterised by the infectious vocal. Ikonika and her Hum & Buzz label partner Optimum flip the track into a Dance Mania referencing future bass anthem. If Brenmar’s subsequent output retains a tenth of the quality that this release is soaked in, he’ll be a star.

Markus Garcia