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D’Marc Cantu – Set Free review

US DJ/producer D’Marc Cantu continues the M<O<S label’s fine run of form with Set Free. The past five years have seen a glut of Chicago-inspired releases; some have been great, most have been formulaic and unimaginative, but what is most striking about this trend is how the new wave of Chicago producers specifically and US artists generally interpret the development. Traxx christened his own take ‘Jakbeat’, and on his Faith album integrated ebm, Italo and guest vocalists with Chicago house.

Similarly, D’Marc Cantu, who works with Tadd Mullinix as 2AM/FM and X2 with Mullinix and Traxx, has tended towards a noisy, distorted, quasi-industrial take on the sound for Crème Jak, and on 2AM/FM’s “Electronic Justice” used Gothic style vocals. Therefore, “Tonight” hardly comes as a surprise; its woozy bassline is the centrepiece of an arrangement so dense and grungy that it’s hard to understand how Cantu managed to insert his muffled vocals. The track is so loose, even in key Chicago elements like the claps, that it assumes a truly otherworldly feeling.

By contrast, the title track is one of the most accessible tracks that Cantu has done. A panning, upfront rhythm forms its basis, but it gives way to a dreamy chord sequence that once heard cannot be forgotten. Ignore the tribute tracks: if you want a release that bring Chicago’s heritage a few steps further, you’ve come to the right place.

Richard Brophy