Jennifer Loveless - Water (Butter Sessions, 2021)
On her third release, Loveless channels the textural and visceral nature of water in its many forms to craft a dance record filled to the brim with rhythmical brilliance, shining melodic work and an immersive atmosphere that will have you dreaming of the dancefloor.
There are many things in nature that mark the earth, which shape the terrain we see and perceive around us, with perhaps the greatest component of this notion being the fluidity of water. As an element that makes up 71% of the world's surface, and 60% of the human body, water remains all around us and indeed within us, and remains above the rest of the core natural elements as a virtue of vitality and life, with its importance to our existence unquestionable and its requirement in our daily lives paramount. Water always draws us closer, whether it be at the beach, by a shady brook, or an inlet lake, or under a tree as the storms close in, its power and presence are found all over, its flexibility and grace a marvel and its feel some refreshing, other times perhaps not so much. As a result of these notions, water has remained highly influential in our lives since the dawn of humankind, and has provided the catalyst for many inventions, pieces of art, records etc that were inspired by both its potential and its ability to appear calming or even destructive. The rhythmic make up of water - the waves by the beach, the flow down the river bed towards a waterfall - is often mimicked in musical compositions and DJ sets, with the various states in which we experience water serving as a source of continual inspiration for many music makers. Transitions are designed to be as free flowing and graceful as possible, the elemental feels translated into sharp concise movements between tunes or even within tunes, or the aquatic nature of chordal arrangements conjuring up visions of the deep blue and the not so far away horizon line. Music can be conjured up with a vivid image in mind, and we find ourselves associating certain kinds of records with our own experiences with water, which arrive to us in a myriad of ways depending on where we might find ourselves in the walks of life. Its a physical and emotional experience, one that takes us to certain places in the past where the rhythmic notions of the waves has soothed our mind, the salty feel in the air invigorating our senses and the spray washing over us, its an experience that has always passed us by in our lives and it will forever be one we return back to. The music that is inspired by the presence of water comes in many forms, with countless producers from a plethora of genres having a go at defining their love affair with the element, with genres like Ambient, Field Recordings and Down Tempo in particular giving over to that traditional soothing notion of water's energy, but other genres like Balearic, Electro and House have all explored in depth the context of water and its symbolic energy. These last genres are of particular importance, as to rather take us way past the shore line they focus on the voyeuristic framing and mystic qualities of being on the shore, harnessing the power of the sparkle to bring it into DJ sets and within wider society, reflecting the dance as much as the environment in which we find ourselves. Water remains all around us, its presence unwavering and total to humanity's existence, and as a result we will always look outwards from the cliffs towards the edge of the ground beneath our feet and the vast expanse, transplanting our feelings about the water into the music we hear that takes us to that place that holds a special place in our hearts.
For DJ and producer Jennifer Loveless, water became the central theme of her latest release, which represents another significant step in her already noteworthy career. Born in Canada but now residing in Melbourne, Loveless has garnered a real reputation as a selector, with her DJ sets a celebration of hard hitting rhythmic pulses, densely filtered melodics and above all else a sense of flow and progression that diverges from the main percussive core in the most exciting of ways. There's a real sense of underlying energy to her mixing style, with a bounce of sorts that keeps the kicks and keys suspended in a sea of intoxicating feels that sets the vibe at the perfect level, with the body and soul firmly locked into all that flows through the mixer and out into the crowd. Not only do the sets show a remarkable level of rhythmic consistency, but its achieved through a manner of differing styles and tempos, with the vibe being curated from the off and channelled through to the very end to top off a very satisfying experience indeed. Some really fun mixes we enjoyed by her include her June 2019 Rinse FM mix, the August 2020 Groove Magain mix, and the stunning FH mix recorded late last year, all of which showcase her dexterity on the decks and with her impeccable musical selection. There's no wonder as to why Loveless is considered one of Melbourne's brightest lights, with her array of sounds lovingly curated for any dancefloor she comes across as the foundations quake and groove. After some time mesmerising crowds across the world, Loveless made her first foray into production with her 2020 debut EP, 'Hard/Soft', which was delivered to us as both a continuous mix and individual cuts, and the results are simply astonishing. Utilising the parameters of hard and soft as guides to the motion of the record, we meander through a series of scenes expertly crafted to provide a sensation of being perfectly poised between both sides, peering out across on occasion to glimpse at an object in the far away distance that captures the imagination on so many levels. The record is deeply emotive, with her use of chordal arrangements tugging at the heart strings as tonal swells wash over us from all angles, as the soundscape builds and delves to dazzling heights of quietly conceived euphoria. The experience has all the hallmarks of Loveless' DJ sets, where the rhythmic pulse is maintained throughout at a steady rate yet there remains an awful lot for us to look at across the board, such is the immersion presented to us across the spectrum of feels that come our way. She would follow that success up with the release of '1.5m', which showcased a similarly melodic approach but with a more trippy feel to proceedings, with the swirling panning key lines working wonders above a constantly shifting percussive structure. The record would also feature some amazing remixes from the likes of Female Wizard, Korea Town Acid and her own alias JLO, which all cap off the experience in a nice little bow. In all, Loveless tied into her own productions the sights and sounds of her DJ sets, encapsulating the feel of being locked into the sonic vortex that transcends above the decks and into the outer realms and placing it firmly within her music, with the rhythmic flows the key thing which transposes itself from both sets of artform. The melodies are top draw, the drums are free and flowing across the board, the tone and atmosphere is perfected and given back out to the world in so many ways, with every corner touching upon the human expression be it either the physicality of the dance or the sun kissed afternoon in our living rooms, her music - both within sets and on record - appeal to both sides of the spectrum, and its feeling, mood and rhythm run deep into the core of our very beings. Its quite a journey, so why don't you go and check out her early works - you won't be disappointed!
And now we arrive at her latest record, 'Water', which arrives via Australian label Butter Sessions. In her own words, Loveless wanted to create a sharp contrast to her debut, with her perception of her own music growing to be that people saw her as an ambient musician, and as a result we are blessed with a record inspired by the calm water beside outdoor gigs and the sweat that feels its way through the grooves of the dance. From the off the energy is certainly not ambient, with choppy drums filtering through a hard edge percussive tempo that set the foundation for all manner of inspired bass lines and subtle but expansive melodic touches, with the feeling of pure rhythm moving through every single facet of the sound. It feels very much like being placed right within a Jennifer Loveless set, and that sensation is exciting just to right about, as we close our eyes and get firmly involved with the switches in rhythms, the meandering tones and the sharp transitions, as we revel in the atmosphere of pure unbridled joy. Its pure letting yourself go music, and at the end of the day, isn't that what we need more of in our lives? except, would it be as good as this record? who knows, but right now, we are beyond excited to dive head first into this masterclass of beaty goodness....
Up first comes 'Out/Under', and the intro gets right into the drumming pattern. The cosmic tinged intro salvo quickly unravels to accommodate the looping percussive structure that jumps through not one but multiple layers to arrive at its final form, with this point in the track having a lot of glimmering acid lines and technological noises for us to marvel at. Its around this point that the worming bass line comes into view, navigating the basement of the track with a incessant energy that strikes a tone from the bottom up, with its weaving feel helping to guide the track along into differing structures and percussive spaces as further melodic lines join in to add further density to the cut. The nature of the drums means that a massive space is crafted between the layers, providing plenty of opportunity for sonic touches to be delicately woven into the matrix that unravels in front of us, with a long pause provided for the bass line to leave then come back into the picture which leads us into the first climatic section of the track. The key line that accompanied the bass line takes on a mind of its own as it rises right to the top of the composition, leading us in all kinds of directions as the crowd around us sways to the motions like well, water. The track then sees itself out the door, content in providing us with a journey we won't forget in a hurry. Up next comes 'Syzygy (Scissor Me)', and this one begins with the drums sweeping us literally off our feet. The kicks hit like a freight train as the high end hats cut through the top of the pile with such urgency, with crashes adding triple dosages of fever at all the right moments, as the varying layers all operate together to provide a strong as hell bedrock for the melodics to being glistening on top. The simmering swirls and sudden placements add much weight to proceedings, providing an overall sense of forward momentum that has remains a constant throughout, and just as we thought the feels couldn't get any more intriguing then Loveless pulls out a transition any producer would be immensely proud off. A single bass line rings out across the bottom of the track, creating a break in the clouds for the melodies to seep in and flood the ground beneath, a mere drop in the ocean of the rhythm as it comes back into pile drive mode, with the drums as clear cut and incessant as ever. There's time for one final dip in energy before the track looks to see itself out, the percussion probably still playing in an alternative universe somewhere out beyond the clouds. Perfection. Up next comes 'ECC', and this one starts off with the drums and keys getting us going. The first two cuts were very much about displaying a control over the momentum of the percussion, but here we are greeted with the first overtly melodic layering this record has to offer, and its truly transformative, as the continual chord holds the fort between the swinging drums and swirling arpeggios. The track then reaches its first dip before picking up steam almost immediately, with the pad becoming less solid and more sweeping in nature, leaving us for a second before coming back into our lives in a heartbeat, signifying the feelings we all have as the pulsating grooves descend across the dancefloor. The track then really dips in energy to reveal a distant chordal arrangement that sounds so melodic it could melt ice, and slowly but surely the volume builds to reach centre stage, and oh boy is it something to behold, with Loveless taking time to release the drums into full mode but when the moment does arrive, well the roof comes off. Its sheer euphoria, the kind you only get when the time has been taken to build up to the climax, you close your eyes and feel the after shock caress you into the bliss of the night sky. The track then takes some time to bring our energy levels down a bit, shifting through the chordal arrangement with a fluidity that rocks you to the core, and like that the track floats away into the simmering horizon line, content in its ability to shift the emotions in our mind and the world around us, all at the same time. Insanely powerful stuff.
Up next comes 'Backroll Buddy', and this one begins with with the flickering arpeggios getting us going above a sea of voices. The charming notes are quickly joined by first a filtered kick and then a fully blown one, with the intensity of the voices growing over time to when a singular voice emerges as the leading light, which Loveless takes on board as the key driver of the beat, which skips across the spectrum being presented before us. The voice is then joined by the exquisite bass line, with plenty of trickery implemented to craft a sense of dipping the energy as the music moves in and around the narrative being played out underneath, as if the music is moving under and over a shifting ocean of people. Its a remarkable atmosphere, one of shifting sands and fluid emotions being portrayed by a constant chattering of voices and dynamic manipulation of the drums and melodics, with the track never slowing down for breathers, merely toying with the environment and our sense of audial perception, and to keep that going for the length of a 10 minute track is pretty incredible. The energy is electric to the touch, as if the song was designed to vividly recreate a club like experience in our heads, with the sways in mood between the peak time hours through to the 3am shift and back up to the 5am energy booster, its all here for us to experience and get to know. Amazing! and, to wrap things off, we have 'B L U You', and this one begins with the simmering cascades over a blue hued horizon line. The drums move and groove on the left hand side, shifting from the foreground and to the back as the keys begin to align themselves within the mix with a warm embrace, with a swirling acid line coming into view to provide a textural feel to proceedings. The kicks arrive to craft the urgency we have come to know and love about this record, and after taking a little dip in energy they lift the track right back up to provide a basis for the short but remarkably sweet chordal touches to do their thing, meandering and moving on top of the beats that channel into us one final time, as additional melodic features swing in and out of view as time floats past us, unaware of the principles of the here and now, just focused fully on the moment we happen to be in right now. This is some record, woooow.
Jennifer Loveless wanted to harness the conceptual feeling of water in this record, and oh boy does she achieve that on so many levels. There's a fluidity that runs throughout this record, an energy akin to the slow drip of a tap, the roaring energy of a cascading waterfall, the soothing calm of a morning walk on the beach, or the sedate visions across a eerily calm lake, its all self-contained with the tracks that make up this record, but its the sheer velocity of the manner in which these forms of water are represented. They are wrapped up in the perspiration of bodies moving alongside one another in sheer ecstasy, as transitions and rhythms guide us to our next destination of joyousness, carrying the weight of the world underneath us as we ascend to new reaches of melodic and beat driven serenity. The record is, to put it simply, a tour de force, and something that will be remembered as a piece of music that pulsated through the contemporary musical landscape and set a new bar for dance music everywhere. We cannot sing its praises enough, so do go and give it a listen for yourself. One of the EPs of the year, for sure.
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