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Heatsick – Déviation review

When you look to Heatsick’s discography, the majority of his output to date is coated over in the comforting nostalgia of “Cass, Album, C90” and other such indicators of that most resurgent of redundant media. Digging deeper, you discover that the driving force behind his music is a Casiotone keyboard which has commanded the dizzy heights of Panorama Bar among other places. It’s quite a charming notion to consider an artist so doggedly sticking to his one weapon of choice and forging a sound from within the shackles of that device, and fortunately it seems to be paying off.

Based in Germany and now making his second appearance on local label Pan, some kind of light has been switched on for both artist and public alike, with his homespun house sitting snugly in the convolution of contemporary 4/4. It would be hard to not like Heatsick from the opening strains of “Deviation”, as perfectly tinned drums and a naïve bassline plod out with a groove that’s not so much drunken as tipsy, letting a relatively plain beat sound ever so slightly awkward. This simple motif unexpectedly gives way to cascades of budget bongos and an organ like pad that meander on their own more ambient agenda, leaving the core party element of the track out to dry until the last 60 seconds. The irreverence and lack of contrivance that comes across speaks volumes for how Steven Warwick approaches making his music, unconcerned about ticking boxes or pleasing anyone.

“C’etait Un Rendez-vous” is more immediately loungey, cruising on a sunkissed Baleric kind of funk while those wonderfully sloppy beats keep on popping away in the background. The twist on this particular track is in Warwick’s vocal turn, coming on like Ian Dury and further highlighting the tongue-in-cheek vibe that makes Heatsick so instantly appealing. That’s not to say the music isn’t to be taken seriously; you can’t argue with the way the guest sax spot from André Vida intertwines with the cool breeze of the keys in the latter half of the track.

The latter half of the EP continues this theme of tin-can psychedelia, as “The Stars Down To Earth” rides the same bass riff throughout while a shapeless vocal comes in and out of earshot and Warwick wigs out over the top with all manner of organ styles. “No Fixed Address” picks up where that spooky vocal lick left off, bumping on a soca break and feeding more finely diced samples into the mix, only for some wry old-skool chord stabs to plonk around in the mid-section.

There are some who might dismiss this music as being a little childish. Certainly Warwick’s beloved keyboard determines the feeling of the EP from start to finish, but then that’s precisely the attraction of the music. There are no airs and graces necessary when the ideas are as pure as these; honest grooves with left-leaning ideas and a healthy dose of humour. It’s not an easy combination to achieve with all the studio equipment in the world, but, after all, it’s what you do with what you have that counts.

Oli Warwick 


1. Dream Tennis
2. C’etait Un Rendez Vous
3. The Stars Down To Earth
4. No Fixed Address