Wooowww, well well well. This captured my imagination a great deal when I first heard it. A month or so later, it's still teetering on the borders of my memory like a candy wrapper glimmering in sunlight, or like something else that might draw your attention – crystals strewn across a beach, finding a prize (plastic funny-smelling figurine) in your cereal as you pour it into your bowl. That sort of thing.
It arrives from EVM128, real name Luke Meads: Bristol progeny who now dwells in London. It's called 'Treatment'. Heralded in descriptions and press releases as a revival of another Bristol product, broken beat, it's easy to discern the fragmented nature of the beat through your own ears: irregular patterns in the alternating kick and abrasive-fluid snare, jangling tambourine cut and placed between these, hi-hats skiffling in unusual order, additions of flighty cymbal bell-hits, assertive hyperactive snare rolls, other percussive syncopations, all offbeat in a style that fits rhythmically between house and hip-hop. People 'in the know' will say 'ah yes this broken beat rite here'. Sounds broken – simple.
Hmmmm, well, actually, thinking about it… it seems less simple the more you think about it. Despite knowing about the style beforehand, despite listening to 'Treatment' on repeat, the pattern of the beat feels fresh every time. Is it its seeming irregularity that makes it harder to pick up on? Are there genuinely predictable and unpredictable rhythms in music? I suppose you could become used to it after a long while… These are questions for a neurologist.
But it's not just the beat that makes EVM128's track so salted-caramel-delicious; add to the neurone-stimulating skiffle-thump a modulating wobble of airy ghostly synth – woo-oo-oo-oo, like that – the occasional singular soft chord simply asserting its existence in the midst of the beat thicket, the drippy-splash melodic synth painting chilled lounge melodies in miniature; add all this and you have a special sound, seemingly effortless and wonderfully basic.
And that's not forgetting Olmo Cassibba, the Sicilian-Scottish alto saxophonist and person-of-percussion, whose blissful work on the flute completes 'Treatment', making it a great clashing together of these fractured even garage-lilting beats, these trip-hopping future-facing electronics, and horizontal lounge exotica sunshine pouring in, jungle-beach-cosmopolitan-hangout jazz flavours, the phantom of cigarette smoke hanging like a thin veil in a basement club, nocturnal car-driving under illuminated palm trees.
- And there is more of this delightful beatwork and instrumental goodness on EVM128's debut album, Nova. It's out now and you can listen to / purchase it here.