You can separate the true musical mavericks from their lesser contemporaries by the lack of interest shown in merely treading the same waters upon which your name was established, no matter how highly celebrated a canon it is. Despite what the Dope Jams crew have to say, most would agree Konotop’s self professed spiritual warrior Vakula belongs in this category, with the diverse nature of his output so far this year – two artists albums under different names with a third to follow on Firecracker – edging in ever more ambitious directions than the intricately arranged deep house that dominated his prolific output between 2010 -11.
The third release on his own Leleka imprint demonstrates this shift in direction perfectly, acting as label curator and introducing the Ashes To Machines duo DJ Oil & Jeff Sharel to an audience perhaps not familiar with their work. The duo describe themselves as purveyors of “earth music,” a sound that is apparently the result of three years spent traversing some 40 countries to perfect a sound that melds the African diaspora with their own European heritage. Those with an aversion to anything faintly similar to the horrid “world music” genre tag are probably all set to roll their eyes right about now, but hold off as “Resistance” is a truly sumptuous production from Ashes To Machines, with cavernous hints of jazz and funk buried deep into a dusted house mainframe, gently propelled by soft focus drum rolls weirdly reminiscent of Mark Pritchard’s altogether more vicious Brazilian house thumper “Strike Hard” under his Troubleman alias.
Remixes follow from Ji Dru & Sandra Nkake, JuJu & Jordash and Vakula himself, and each one sets the track in differing yet complementary directions. Listen to the relatively straightforward opening minutes of Vakula’s remix and you’d think he’s forgone his penchant for unusual and unpredictable arrangements; however the edges soon begin to fragment into a quivering mass of hollowed out sound that eventually dissolves completely. Though it’s not revealed, you’d like to think Ashes To Machines met and bonded with Paris based duo Ji Dru & Sandra Nkake over the course of their three years of travelling and wanted to share their new found exposure with them and their remix works the most on teasing out and expanding on the jazz elements of “Resistance”.
The best is perhaps saved till last, as Juju & Jordash further demonstrate confidence in the dub laden slant on house they’ve carved for themselves on a remix that commences with a voodoofied treatment of the vocal, spreading across the misty expanses of echo laden sound. These multi layered vocals are gradually underpinned by the muckiest of house bumps that drags us through opiated swirls of malfunctioning analogue sound, appearing to end abruptly before completely changing rhythmic tack and ending on some sort of brief but delirious jacking Jamal Moss tip.
1. Resistance (original)
2. Resistance (Vakula remix)
3. Resistance (Ji Dru & Sandra Nkake remix)
4. Resistance (Juju & Jordash remix)