Dusted Down: Brooks – Clix

Dusted Down is a new series in which Juno Plus writers dig through the electronic music archives to discuss a dance music curio deserving of (re)assessment. It may be that the passage of time has shed extra contextual light on a record overlooked at the time of release, or that a 12″ once written off as too weird was actually years ahead of its time. To launch the series Matt Anniss has selected Brooks’ turn-of-the-millennium house cut “Clix”.

Andrew Brooks was still a relative newcomer when he released “Clix”, arguably his greatest moment, in 2000. He had just one previous single to his name, the so-so, jazz-flecked East Midlands deep houser “Pink Cigarettes”. In hindsight, “Pink Cigarettes” was something of a prelude to “Clix”; it utilized some of the same ideas – the use of sampled jazz horns, the sleazy but eccentric atmopsherics – but stuck more rigidly to the early Mantis Recordings template.

But “Clix” was different. Twelve years on, it still has a dark resonance that belies its turn-of-the-millennium roots. The track’s genius lies in its subtle combination of sparse but sleazy elements. Propelled forward by the sort of murky analogue bassline once the preserve of Detroit techno and Chicago acid producers, it bubbles away hypnotically for nine spellbinding minutes, offering little more than bittersweet sleaze throughout. It has no more than two or three defining features – a blast of distant, bluesy sax, a (presumably sampled) vocal that makes little sense and some deep house synth stabs – but retains energy and interest throughout.

That Brooks could turn these meagre elements into a restless chunk of house noir says much for his production skills and understanding of dancefloor dynamics. Throughout, there are subtle changes – the introduction of muted cymbal hits, for example, or the use of curiously dubbed-out sci-fi noises or haunting darkroom effects – but these serve only to accentuate the power of Brooks’ red light groove.

In these times of jackin’ revivalism and knowing nods towards vintage darkroom house (particularly of the US variety), “Clix” may not seem all that revelatory. Back in 2000, when it was first unleashed on the world, the dance music landscape was totally different. Acid house revivalism was the preserve of a few dedicated heads, Detroit techno was as stubborn as ever, soulful US house was still popular and progressive house had yet to whither and die. In fact, many British prog DJs were enjoying a renaissance (no pun intended) in New York, playing to packed audiences at Twilo.

“Clix” went against the grain. It wasn’t even typical of Mantis Recordings’ output. Label owner Martin “Atjazz” Iveson was beginning to enjoy some success with his fluid blends of deep house, broken beat and future jazz, but his major breakthrough was yet to come. The label’s releases largely followed his blueprint; until Brooks repeated the trick with his brilliant “HipHouse” remix of Clyde and Capitol A’s “Serve It Up” in 2003, there was little quite as dark, sleazy or intoxicating as “Clix”.

The “Clix” 12” is also notable for featuring possibly the first ever remix by Matt Chicoine under his Recloose moniker. That his heavier, looser and jazzier remix – complete with sci-fi jazz organs and garage-influenced rhythms – played second fiddle to the A Side tells you all you need to know. While excellent, it simply couldn’t match the majesty of Andrew Brooks’ booming original. “Clix” wasn’t the end for Brooks, but it remains his defining moment. On the back of it, he recorded an excellent debut album, You, Me & Us – another slept-on classic that’s worth checking – before signing up with Matthew Herbert’s Accidental Records. Having moved on musically towards more eccentric pastures (see the hilariously camp single “Do The Math”), he found it hard to repeat his early success. Sadly, his moment had passed.

Matt Anniss

Artist: Brooks
Title: Clix
Label: Mantis Recordings
Released: 2000

Tracklisting:

A1. Clix (Original)
A2. Clix (Mantis Recordings Clixmix)
B1. Clix (Recloose Remix)
B2. Maxpak

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