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White Noise: Basic Soul Unit – You Knew EP

Friday, 29 May 2015

Basic Soul Unit – You Knew EP

Label: Dolly

Basic Soul Unit, aka Toronto’s Stuart Li, is one of the dance world’s great lurkers. Rather than releasing one mammoth single and then running out of steam, rather than headlining festivals one year and vanishing the next, Li has been quietly and consistently producing excellent dance tracks for the last ten years. His music remains firmly in the 4/4 realm but skitters darkly between deep house and straight-up techno, always routed in subtle textures and hardware but lacking neither muscle nor finesse.

It’s quite an impressive summary, but Li is quite an impressive producer. For his second release on Steffi’s Dolly imprint BSU is in peak dancefloor territory, turning up tracks that somehow manage to feel both raw and subtle. The title track looks to Shed with its rhythmic skeleton, balancing frustrated broken-machinery drums with a dependable kick. It’s a stark tune, a fact only emphasised by the single stroke of colour applied: a hollow chime that brings a real dramatic flavour to the chugging groove. Li flips the tune for the Deep Mix on the B-side, stripping some of the distortion from the drums and adding some icy gleaming keys to the second half. Either side would go down a storm in the club.

Delve Into harks back to a certain moment when producers were applying the vocal dynamics of bass music to techno rhythms, a sound that unfortunately never really took off. The chopped vocals add urgency and warmth to a beautifully detailed drum section, running over a range of hollow and clipped timbres, adorned with swift synth stabs and incongruous bird calls.

For the final act Li lets off the throttle a little. Snow Drift is a slick cut, a hyperactive bassline anchoring filtering synthwork and drums pushed to the back of the mix. It’s a pleasant enough track but lacks the killer instinct of the record’s A-side. Still, as a package You Knew shows that BSU seem incapable of putting a stylistic foot wrong, a prime selection of club tracks that are elegant and functional, sure to ignite the room wherever they’re played.


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