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White Noise: Jacques Greene – Concealer

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Jacques Greene – Concealer

Label: Vase


These Days


For me, Canadian producer Jacques Greene was easily one of the most brilliant breakthrough artists of 2011. Emerging with the unbearably catchy Baby I Don’t Know (What You Want) on Night Slugs and releasing two great EPs, The Look and Another Girl, the title track of which was easily one of last year’s biggest tunes, and ending the year with a stellar white label release, everything Greene touched seemed to turn to gold. So you can imagine my excitement when the news broke that he had a new EP coming out on his own freshly-minted label, Vase. By this point, the Bass market is saturated by people doing exactly what Greene has always done; lush and airy dance tunes that heavily reference RnB both in sultry mood and in expert sampling, but the producer has clearly worked his execution down to a science. The compositions here are sleek, sexy and efficient, but in their ease there is an inherent weakness; the tunes here are surprisingly forgettable, and far too frequently in listening to Vase I found myself asking if Greene was actually going to provide anything new.

On the lead track Flatline Greene takes his particular style of Bass music, so heavily indebted to RnB, to its inevitable conclusion by enlisting the help of sometimes collaborator Ango to record an original vocal track to flirt with his bright synths and shuttering percussion. The vocals can easily be compared to the recent spate of moody, plaintive RnB singers such as The Weeknd, Drake or The-Dream, but Ango’s voice doesn’t really work for me. His smooth, breathy lyrics excel in the low ranges but sound somewhat weak and nagging rather than moving when it comes to the chorus. The construction of the instrumentation here feels styled more after mainstream pop than either Bass or RnB, and Greene’s production is surprisingly bland. There’s absolutely nothing offensive here, and it’s a very smooth listen, but it all feels very generic, sparkling synths and stuttering percussion that has none of the surprise or punch of Greene’s earlier pieces. The same could be said of third cut Clark, it retains all the elements that always made Greene such a joy to listen to; an exquisitely chosen and applied vocal sample, sharp percussion and a bouncing bassline, but completely lacks force or direction- I kept waiting for the track to lift off and was sorely disappointed by the end, as it all felt rather pointless.

To be fair, it’s not all bad news for Greene on Concealer. These Days is a stronger track, with a twinkling synth arpeggio, beats that actually seem to have some weight behind them, and a superb spiralling vocal line that repeats to dazzling effect. It’s an effective and lush affair but I can’t help but find the tune a little by-the-numbers; just like the other tracks here it just doesn’t really offer anything new. By no means am I demanding that every producer must put out something completely different on each release, but here Greene doesn’t give me anything to listen to that offer any significant difference or improvement on classics like Another Girl or Motivation, and I’d prefer to spend my time listening to the original tracks than more formulaic, diluted versions of them. Greene stated in a recent interview with the Guardian, “It would have been boring to just do Another Girl part two”, but it seems to me that would have been preferable to these first three tracks that feel uninspired at best.

Given all this, it’s a very welcome stroke of luck that the final tune on offer here, Arrow, a collaboration with White Noise favourite Koreless, is a total success. Here Greene really goes to make something different, a piece nearing ten minutes that seems to actually breathe across its immersive course. The sense of space on this track is very indicative of Koreless’ productions so far, and the two producers’ styles suit each other perfectly; with snappy 2step beats and a single bright note receding and emerging from a textured soundbed of spacey synths and warm effects. I’m not sure the tune would work so well on the dancefloor but it’s an undeniably beautiful track, and really signals something different for both producers. One great tune isn’t quite enough to be Concealer’s saving grace, but it suffices to convince me that Greene still has a huge amount to offer, if only he’ll step out of his comfort zone a little more on his next release.


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At 12 February 2012 at 01:32 , Anonymous Brandon H said...

totally with you on the last track, it's so great


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