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Lady Blacktronika – Black Girl EP review

While the furore around the figurehead Detroit producers of today may be somewhat deafening at times, it’s pleasing to be reminded sometimes that there are other talents at work in the city. Operating in her own space within the inherent musical fabric of the Motor City, Lady Blacktronika has quietly established herself independently of the hype some of her neighbours amass.

The essence of the fuzzy sub-genre known as Detroit Beatdown is a woozy, blues-soaked hue that drapes itself over rough diamonds of samples; for the most part it’s a smoke-filled den of loose-fit grooves. From the opening strains of the “Slo Mo” mix of the EP’s title track, you’re transported to that same dream-like plain that the most sublime Theo Parrish or Moodymann track can levitate you to.

Where Lady Blacktronika triumphs in establishing her own identity within this heavily stylised corner of electronic music is that her tracks avoid the tendency many Detroit producers have to twist things up, throwing curveballs into the mix just when you thought the groove had been established. The “deep house” mix of “Black Girl” is a prime example, maintaining the downbeat jazz melodics, but fitting it to an intense, jacking drum machine workout. It’s still strange, otherworldly music, but it maintains a consistency that draws you in more instinctively. Even as the strung-out tones of “The E’s Have It” chime out in their slack-jawed drawl, the kick punches through the mix on a ever-so gently broken beat, providing a constant focus for the rest of the amorphous elements to skit around.

There’s such a definite, evocative feeling that you get from listening to the music that Lady Blacktronika makes. It radiates its message through tracks heavily laden with soul, all the while maintaining an honest approach to house music that stands out in a time when a lot of music can sound contrived.

Oli Warwick