Earl Grey – Infinite Loop
The ever-brilliant Western Lore return with a fantastically intricate EP from Manchester’s Jim Ehlinger aka Earl Grey. The devil is in the details and ‘Infinite Loop’ doesn’t shy away from showcasing the producer’s ability to balance often frantic percussive elements and samples with intermittent ambient noise and soft flowing melodies. With a deftness that most producers would dream of and, birthing a lush record which works equally on the dancefloor (remember those?) as it does on headphones.
The title track opens with a flat-step-beat, under a sound canvas of light digital distortion, possibly static or modem interference. Whatever it is, it has feeling. A Kung-fu-ish ‘aiiyah!’ vocal sample cuts in, then dub blips, slowly joined by a ghostly choral sample, drenched in reverb. This is everything I love about rave music in general: the connecting of disparate references, that, on paper, make no sense at all but, in the hands of a decent producer, gels together perfectly. A solid 4/4 kick brings the power as various cuts of dub drum rolls punctuate the tracks perpetual rise. I guess this is futuristic jungle techno? Whatever you want to call it, it’s powerful, dramatic and right up my street.
‘Levitate VIP’ has a digital soulfulness to it. Somewhere back in the very early 2000s, before D&B went up its arse for a bit, Peshay did a mix for Renegade called Renegades of Funk. I bumped that mix for years and sonically this wouldn’t sound out of place on it. Dubbed out filtered pads and soft pianos float over frantic, complex drum production. Ehlinger’s mastery of restraint is particularly rewarding here. It builds subtly. Layers upon layers as the melody grows, until somewhere around the five-minute mark the track essentially changes. Angelic samples give way to intense drum work, flutes and harps. Its a truly beautiful journey. Play it all the way through!
‘Wiretap’ is a lovely half stepper. It’s deep worm-like bass growling in contrast to its gorgeous drifting vibraphones and warm pads. It’s soulful but queasy. With a psychedelic aesthetic that seems to have as much to do with krautrock groups like Harmonia and Popul Vuh as it does with more contemporary jungle.
The EP closes on a darker note. Collaborating with label boss Alex Eveson (Dead Mans Chest), ‘Fugitive Version’ is a murky amen heavy roller. I can imagine losing my marbles to this in the Source, Oxford circa ‘98. Pure atmospherics over wild pitch drum breaks. Rimshots, heavy on the reverb. Mentalism for the sore jaw crew. It takes me back to a very special place and I’m thankful for it. It’s worth noting that there’s also a techier dub version of ‘Fugitive’ which is a Digi exclusive and definitely worth copping.
As usual, the release is packaged beautifully in a sleeve drawn by the main man Mr Eveson. Not to be missed!
For fans of: Gloom, Atmospherics and complex patterns