Bursting forth from seemingly out of nowhere, Shamos appears on Steve Julien’s Apron label with little to no context to anchor his music. All we can go on is the identity of the imprint, which in this case has been making great strides to define itself in the past couple of years. Naturally a lot of that identity orbits around its founder’s projects Funkineven and St. Julien, but in looking at artists such as Greg Beato, Seven Davis Jr and most recently Shanti Celeste, it’s not hard to sense a pattern of sorts. Shamos appears from the mist and slots neatly into this loosely defined theme of brittle beats, scuffed sample triggering and brazen melody.
Within this vague concept of an Apron sound there is a necessary naivety at times, and you can hear it in the lead in of opening track “Training Day”. The intro almost comes on too raw, sounding like a bare bones idea that needs more consideration, but such notions are quickly washed away once the woozy hum of a horn sample bleeds into the mix. Those stark rhythmic elements now sound fulfilled, their unrefined edges nudging into the bosom of the sampled tones in a perfect juxtaposition. That teetering production quality is in fact where the unique appeal of Apron material lies, and Shamos has tapped into that spirit with gusto. Of the heart and soul of the track itself, a captivating noirish mood pervades from that aforementioned melodic lick and its varying counterparts, a cinematic foil to the mechanical splat of the drum sounds.
“Ode To Lunch” too deals in loose lilting jazz tones draped over the rugged drum patterns, although here the array of sounds drift in and out of the mix to create a swirling quality, approximating the first light on a Sunday morning breaching the gap in the curtains at the after party. The beats that prop up this mellifluous blend serve a simple role, providing a place marker for the dusty tones to float in a mix, but they still punch with that Apron grit (I could at this point generalize and pin it on AKAI sampling but I can’t be certain that an MPC was used in the making of this record).
“Westdown Road” and “Cranbourne Road”, the A2 and B2 respectively on this release, deal in a much tougher, club-centric message. These slabs of primal techno fire off short, squelchy, alien sounds with a passionless demeanour that sits in stark opposition to the wistful romance of “Ode To Lunch”. They’re far from dry though, whether it be the unexpected acid injection at the end of “Westdown Road” or the nerve-wracking swell of low end on “Cranbourne Road”. They may lack the ear-snagging personality of the more melodic tracks, but they’re fine floor-focused efforts all the same.
After all, Apron has never sought to be an avant-garde, frontier-facing label. It does indeed sometimes serve up some challenging material, but the priority is always on immediacy, vibrancy and that all-encompassing grit. It’s plain to hear that Shamos has that spirit running through his bones on this record.
A1. Training Day
A2. Westdown Road
B1. Ode To Lynch
B2. Cranbourne Road