It seems like an eternity since Eric Tsai and Justin Simon made their debut on Italians Do It Better. It was, in fact, 2008, and the track in question was “Cable Dazed” – a kind of comedown-friendly deep house cut featuring a pleasingly soft-and-cuddly mix of dubbed-out percussion, eyes-wide-shut electronic riffery and weirdly smacked-out vocals. As leftfield deep house records go, it was pretty special.
The arrival of this long-awaited follow-up, some three years after that breakthrough release, is something of a surprise – and a pleasing one at that. Arriving on DFA, “In A Hole” picks up where “Cable Dazed” left off, but this time Tsai and Simon have replaced the metronomic pulse of deep house with percussive rhythms that wearily shuffle between the speakers like a depressed 90 year-old in a post office queue. If that sounds like an insult, it’s not meant to be; take a listen and you’ll know what we mean.
In both the original and gorgeously trippy dub form, “In A Hole” is woozy, ethereal and dream-like. Half-speed vocals throb attractively in a crystalline soundscape of FX-laden electronics and (of course) carefully programmed congas. Flipside “Can’t Feel My Knees”, meanwhile, trudges back towards the crackly world of leftfield deep house. Immensely fragile, it hovers somewhere between thrillingly bittersweet and heart-achingly mournful. The short dub, all heavy analogue bass, dub-laden percussion and foreboding sweeps, adds a touch of afterhours darkness to proceedings.
It’s an excellent EP, and one that should quickly remind people just why we were so excited about Invisible Conga People in the first place. Taken as a whole, the EP comes on like Primal Scream’s “Higher Than The Sun” for the M-cat generation – and that’s high praise indeed.