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John Swing – Relative 07 review

The concept of making raw, mostly analogue house music in 2012 is an intriguing one. It’s well documented that the distinctive sound of early Chicago and Detroit records came not from production trickery or sleight of hand, but from equipment being used on a trial and error basis; the results, in the right hands, were futuristic, loose and deliciously appealing.

Equally well established is the fact that scores of producers have been trying to replicate that hallowed “raw” sound with decidedly varying degrees of success ever since. Debates over the relative merits of software vs hardware are tiresome, ill-informed to say the least and not worth covering here; it’s much more fun to bask in the talent of modern day torchbearers who bring the DIY ethos to modern dancefloors.

The most pertinent examples to these ears include Andy Blake’s growling, one-take techno jams for his Cave Paintings imprint, as well as Marcello Napoletano’s rattling excursions which smother primal Mediterranean passion on top of jacking Chicago beats. Then there’s Windy City native Jamal Moss, whose reliably left-of-centre output on Mathematics carries elegant, distant echoes of the more functional house sound his city is known for wrapped up in his own sense of mysticism.

There’s a new, younger breed of producers too, operating on labels like Rawax, Analogue Solutions (whatever you may think of Eduardo De La Calle’s edits-not-edits) and, most notably, the mysterious collective who produce under the elusive LiveJam, Relative, Restoration and Appointment clutch of imprints. Their purist, vinyl-only approach borders on militant (Ben UFO’s attempts to license a Livejam track for last year’s Rinse FM mix were politely declined due to the fact it would be available on CD format) but therein lies the charm; heads down, no compromise. Central to this stable has been the work of one John Swing, whose productions sound like they’ve been made in a dank basement consisting of a bunch of drum machines and dusty blues records ripe for sampling.

His latest missive, Relative 007, is comprised of four tracks. “Clint’s Theme” opens with doubled-up claps, beefy kicks and a filtered bassline – the basic elements of pure, visceral body music – before a heavily treated piano refrain is brought in, toyed with and subsequently dispensed. Then the vocals – seemingly intoning the words “wounded, I am” – enter, before the kick returns with just that little bit more bite and the hats with a touch more skip. “Wear And Tear” is rougher still, with heavily distorted hats of the Shake Shakir variety and a looped up funk bassline. On the flipside, “Funky Thoughts” is a loop house cut buried under a bed of distortion and crunchy hats, while “Slightly Jacking” is probably the funkiest of the lot; a simple but delicious one note bassline forms the rhythmic, hip shaking thrust with subtle vocal snippets adding a wholly intoxicating element of sleaze.

Aaron Coultate


A1. Clint’s Theme
A2. Wear And Tear

B1. Funky Thoughts
B2. Slightly Jacking