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White Noise: Sabre - Morning Worship

Monday, 9 March 2015

Sabre - Morning Worship

Label: Royal Oak

While anyone with more than a moment to spare for dance music would quickly dismiss the meaningless accusation that it’s ‘repetitive’, it’s true that a great deal of contemporary house and techno is lacking a real attention to structure. This isn’t surprising; in clubs the groove takes priority, and the tried and true breakdown-build-release structure still works just as well as it did twenty years ago. But it’s still exciting to hear artists who go a step further, beyond programming a few loops and letting them play out. Where new melodies and rhythms emerge and recede, listeners engage, they are carried by the songcraft as well as the propulsive 4/4.
Enter Portugese duo Sabre, whose two outings in 2013, on WT Records and Argot’s Tasteful Nudes sublabel, hinted at something truly fresh. Their approach was maximalist and full of personality, new sounds at every turn, with a polished exuberance to their analog melodies. After a year of silence the pair make a welcome return on Clone’s reliable Royal Oak imprint, offering more joyous, transportative house music that’s never afraid to add more.

We start at the psychedelic beach party of Cascavel Breeze, seaside samples opening onto a seething synthline and squealing guitars. The energy is palpable, broad splashes of colour adorning the frenetic drums. Vigilante is a rougher cut, percussion and melodies fashioned from wood, with the ever-present growl of the bassline. Final cut Streets of Love | Blaze has an 80s movie vibe, a brooding bassline setting the stage for bright, irregularly slashing synths before a brief coda.

These tracks surround Ghetto Prophet, where all Sabre’s playful melodies are streamlined into a driving centrepiece. Here the soaring synths are barely accompanied by a regular beat for the first half, instead adorned with operatic drum hits every few bars, leading to a grand climax five minutes in. The crescendo might not work in isolation, but given the build it feels earned and jubilant. Really one could say this about most of Sabre’s work: there’s so much going on that it’s almost a miracle it all hangs together so coherently. Their sound is distinctive, generous, and – most of all – fun, a welcome rarity in our time of eyes-down burners and gritty warehouse techno.


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