Borrowed CS - Grooves (Self released, 2020)
The NZ producer keeps his musical universe very much alive and stimulated on this further excursion into the realms of star struck melodies and deeply intense drumming sequences.
Intertwining and weaving together the best elements and aspects of genres always results in fascinating results, and with it creates a new frame of dialogue that persists at the forefront of music's continual development. As much a relevancy as it was before, within music's complex and highly saturated contemporary landscape its perhaps more important that today we have a collection of musicians and producers who blend and morph their own eclectic and far reaching tastes into a distilled micro universe that keeps expanding and multiplying with each passing moment. Dance music has always contained so many facets, that goes back decade upon decade, and its always tended to be the giant leaps and bounds which have always come from those who pair and contrast, who highlight and splice together notions and prevailing trends, who dwell within the intersects and crossroads that make up the enormous network of genres and scenes. Whereas before giant leaps seemed all the more revolutionary due to the potential non-existence of new styles, nowadays we can enjoy the refinement, the honing of crafts and pairings of preconceived notions that develop and abound with such ease and flair from the needle. Voices then start to crop up in an audial sense, a journey in which we become enamoured with that deviates and meanders across the broad spectrum of music, picking up and delving into the many flavours that resonate today and producing some wholly intense and heart warming music along the way. Within dance music in particular, its about the understanding and passions that are rooted in the background interests, getting to know all the parts which make these aspects tick and seeing how they can be channelled through our own artistic expressions, in order to explore our own winding path thats route is dictated by how far we allow our creative minds to wonder. Its a freedom that comes packaged with a vision for the bold, for the ones who engage and invest themselves in the concept of liberated soundscapes and joyous experimentation, and the sounds they hold close to their chest only becomes more intriguing as a result. A well worn path that contains the names of so many that came before, but now has a new route, a fresh perspective that allows the continual branching out of musical stylings to keep flourishing, breathing new life into an at times standing still musical movement. Our interest becomes perked by this very engagement, a look into a world that does much to accommodate our own adorations for certain styles and sounds, satisfying our need for excellent music alongside acting as a gate keeper for new experiences to slide into our world.
There are many who embody these ideals within the contemporary soundscapes, but few have the technical tenacity or the creative will of New Zealand producer and musician Cory Champion, who is perhaps better known by his main alias Borrowed CS. Champion has been involved in making music for a few years now, dating back to his time as a member of indie folk group Fuyuko's Fables during the early 2010s, but since then he has channelled his passions into primarily electronic projects, alongside a superb future jazz alias that we will touch on later. Champion makes it very clear from the off of his wide ranging taste and influences, which cover all sides of both the house, techno and even ambient experience, with his application leading to a mergence of all three at times within one record, giving his discography a highly diverse flavour but always leading back to his core audial essence. Champion displays an extraordinary spectrum of sound within his music, that at times reaches for the stars via a techno fuelled rocket engine, at others shakes the walls of the club with its house orientated groove, or at other moments fills up the landscape we find ourselves in with its enriching ambient undertones. He began his journey with all three options open and available, meaning that he has the ability to keep drawing power from any of these lines of enquiry, meaning that his discography remains highly creative and complex at the same time. The sounds that are created are often mind blowing, not just in their progression or even arrangement qualities, but simply in terms of how refined the sound appears across the audial realms, and that is testament to the controls he has over his passions and ideals. Its always the sign of a highly versatile producer that they are able to approach differing genres with an open mind, able to imprint their own voice and tone into proceedings but continually bridge the divide between our own expectations of genres and what they are able to bring to the table. No matter what, when you listen to anything that Champion crafts, its always in his own distinctive and highly infectious style, and that is something we are all grateful for. Looking back through his works, there is much to discuss and celebrate, with LP highlights under the Borrowed CS name include the gorgeous, lucid and raw techno and house that flows from the 'O' LP, that arrived in 2017; and the solid as hell grooves that spew forth from the sublime 'Arch' record, that landed earlier this year. EP wise, some selected highlights include
the timeless tones and rhythmic textures that abound from his debut Borrowed CS record 'Smak', which landed in 2014; the hard hitting up tempo tour de force that resides inside the excellent 'New Page' release, that landed in 2016; the skipping richness that beats along to the rhythms of life which dwells within the heart warming 'B.C.$. EP', that arrived in 2017; the overlapping swells and deep set pools that inhibit the unreal '(Falling Apart) Like Thawing Ice' record, that arrived in 2018; the absolutely incredible vibes that abound from the utterly infectious 'Single Beat Combinations' record, that arrived last year; and finally, the equally superb 'Balance | Ascend EP', that arrived earlier this year and is certainly one of this year's best EPs. Outside of CS, Champion has recently released the self titled debut record under the Clear Path Ensemble name, which is an utterly compelling saunter through the realms of blissed out cosmic future jazz, that simply confirms Champion as a musician to seriously keep an eye on. 2020 has certainly been a busy year for the New Zealander, and its really paying dividends as that immense effort has overseen some astonishing music being released, that pushes buttons for so many who wish to experience escapism in a myriad of ways. For all the moods and emotions in the world, there isn't one that Champion can't soundtrack, and we feel all the more richer for it.
And now we arrive at the record which is the subject of today's review, 'Grooves', that landed last month. Inkeeping with Champion's exploration of worlds graced by dubbed out machines and emotive soundscapes, 'Grooves' contains perhaps his most complete undertaking in this field of sonics yet, with each cut on the record taking on its own form to glide through the glimmering reaches of galaxies that welcome this new traveller into the fold. Densely layered, inherently compelling and moody, enriching to the point of euphoria, the record balances its quiet time with the pumped up rhythmic moments, crafting a narrative that perhaps only Champion can spin within his music. Its easy to become ensnared in its lush undertones, its call too difficult to resist, as we draw further into its compelling progressions and atmospherical brilliance, becoming nearly at one with the music as we travel to the furtherest reaches with the music. So, without further delay, lets get into it.....
Up first comes 'Slow Jalapie', and this one begins in the distant calls of the technological age, blasting through time and space to the present day and beyond. The serious of digital manipulations spread out across the sub base of the track, as rising synths swell and dwell deep within the record to spread right across the backdrop, giving life to the scattering of features that continually capture our imagination in the foreground. The two lines of thought act as thought provoking contrasts, the solidness of the synths alongside the twinkling of the manipulated drumming patterns provides such depth and intrigue, as if the two elements are trying to signal something to us. A message from beyond perhaps, or a frequency that we happen to come across on our astro travels, as the two sequences intertwine and unravel alongside one another, content and comfortable in each others company and available and willing to learn and be in tune with each other. Its a harmony from the stars, a forward momentum defined by informality and the boundless limits of the imagination. As openers go, theres not many better. Up next comes 'Dixon Street', and here we see rhythmic elements make a entrance into proceedings. The series of deep set computer sounds remain within the middle of the track, weaving around an expertly crafted groove that sees the crisp kicks and hats act as a foundation for the key melodic driver - that gorgeous arpeggio chiming key line. The main groove moves onwards with such confidence, a succulent balance of depth and feel that comes to a head as a synth swell sweeps across the cut, which sees the drums cut out before descend right back into proceedings with all the feeling and tenderness in the world. The track is now back into full flow, and its the little touches here and there that make all the difference, from the soft chordal lines that softly move on top the rhythmic progression to the light charming noises that resonate from within, its an arrangement that contains all that you could hope for. Its compelling, infinitely melodic and soft to the senses, and is yet another impeccably balance track that showcases Champion at his peak. Top notch. Up next comes the big one, 'Ghuznee Dub (Take 03)', which slides into view with the most gracious of pulsating key lines. The chordal arrangement represents that of a fluctuating organism, a undercurrent of mood and emotion that crests and falls with equalling levels of intensity, moving between the lines with an infectious level of meaning and feel. The arrangement moves onwards unabated, with little variations here and there adding enormously to the feel as it moves onwards, content to occupy one plain of existence for now but you get a sense of more significant jumps to come. As the dubby chords ring out across the soundscape, this switch up occurs in the most subtle and satisfying of ways, as the lightest of singular chords rings out across the horizon line to provide us with that little uplift we knew we needed, and its just so damn extraordinary. There's enough time for the main driving rhythm to subside a little bit in order to explore this new melodic feature a little bit more, before the track fades off into the distance, with a view to inhibit a place where its power might be felt forevermore. Brilliant.
'Heavy Lifting' comes next, and this one begins in more upbeat surroundings. The metallic drum sequence sees things come to life, and before long we move through the bars to arrive at the core drivers of the track, which present themselves as the now more establishing shuffling drumming patterns, the delicate key sequences and the beautiful bass line. The three work in such tandem with one another, crafting an experience that is part groove and part thought provoking, moving us between the lines with such expertly place transitions and arrangements. The nature of the main melodic line is that it moves from a more informal series of notes that chime along to the rhythm, before it moves into a three chord progression at the end of its sequence, and its a wonderful sense of forward momentum. There's plenty of expertly crafted noises in the supporting cast, that ebb and flow brilliantly with the times to produce an experience that is seeped in texture and forward momentum. A simply glorious sense of expressionism. Up next comes 'Lysis', and this one starts off in more stripped back settings. We are greeted by the arpeggio key line, that weaves and flies around the pulsating bass line, and before long we move right into the main progression moving forwards as the kicks and hats come right into view. Little chordal lines add further to the movements forward, aiding the main driving progression in its quest, as we become enamoured with all that the track looks to achieve, its weaving groove wrapping itself around our hearts as we move and swim with the times. The melodic elements craft a climax of sorts around the 4 minute mark, that then sees the introduction of the quietly snapping snares that add another rhythmic element into the mix, as soft chords do the business in the backdrop, allowing us to become further engaged as the arrangement passes us by. Its wonderful, its hypnotic, its pure audial class. Up next comes 'Digital Science', and the beats come out at full throttle on this one. The swinging techno laden rhythm is quickly joined by the elongated stabs that drive right through the heart of proceedings, with their presence quickly supported by further melodic elements that use the initial core driver as a anchor point in which to operate around. The bass line quickly joins in on the action, as the overall movement is very much on the upwards trajectory, and as the progression moves through the lines we arrive at the introduction of the big swells, the chordal lines that fill up the entirety of the backdrop with their feel and tone, and its simply magical. The power of the groove and the melodic section is here for all to see, its totality in feel and texture remains to be seen as we glide through the mystique with such meaning and presence, which becomes even more apparent as the track takes a moment to remove the drums and showcase the melodies, for us to soak it all up, before we move right back into the main crux of it all, and like that it fades away, on its next quest to meet and find someone else who is riding the crest of imagination and feeling.
Next comes the brilliantly named 'Funky Rugby Complex Oscillator', which is a short and highly sweet saunter through some expertly programmed bass sounds and suitably swinging beat patterns, a lovingly curated break in the energy that helps us transcend into the final act of the record. This part begins with 'Gold Ultima', and the feels are overflowing from this one. The undulating synth lines flow and spread across the bottom end of the sound, as textured cymbals completely take over the mid section of the track, crafting a membrane of sorts that provides all manner of textured feels to persist underneath, as a swelling notion begins to move the main driving synth lines. Little elements are added here and there that slot into the onward progression with ease, moving our minds along with the sequences effortlessly as each passing notion brings us closer into the world, a soundscape inhabited by all manner of intriguing and passionate features. You become completely ensnared by the comings and goings of it all, locked into a loop that gives over so very much in terms of emotional investment and belonging, a ready made experience that morphs and fluxes with the times, adding to its emotional depth and complexity with each passing second. If sublimity had a audial representation, then this track might just be it. Gorgeous ain't even the word. Finally, to wrap things up on this wonderful record, we have 'Ghuznee Dub (Take 01)', that represents a differing mix of the Take 03 mix from earlier. The track begins off in similar territories - the gently grooving synth line, the cosmic undertones and the dubbed out chord that rings across the plains - but with a key difference that clocks in around the 2:30 mark, and that is the solid percussive structures that swing into view. The track becomes a decidedly more rhythmic one, as it crafts a solid momentum moving onwards that is hard to deny when it is in full flow. Its a fitting end to a record filled with moments of such tenderness and emotional gains, along with grooves and rhythms that remain stuck in the mind long after the first listen, and its something to expect now from a Borrowed CS record - a deft balance of tones and atmospheres, all of which contribute to the overall vibe and yet speak very clearly as individual cuts, giving the record a sense of progression but also allowing the record to feel very much like a series of self contained cuts that align themselves with whatever mood you happen to be in at the time. Its brilliant, and we are all for it here at Endless Grooves.
Cory Champion has certainly had a winning year, releasing a bountiful array of records that pull together his complex and wide ranging tastes and production techniques, and this album certainly epitomises one of his creative treads to a t. It offers over to us the moments of downtime, where we wish to drift endlessly through the mental voids and valleys, but also crafts moments of percussive led techno and house which hark back to the deepest moments of the dance, with all the tunes bound together by a impeccable tonal application and inventive melodic arrangements. Never for one moment do you not find yourself intrigued and invested in what might flow next, with a continual flow of elements and features cascading from the cut with ease and a quiet sense of flair, providing us with experiences that leave a lasting impression on us. We already have in mind our vote for producer of the year, and that name might just be Cory Champion. Glorious stuff.
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