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Laurence Guy - Making Music is Bad For Your Self Esteem (2019, Studio Barnhus)

A spectacular tour de force from the producer of the moment.

The English electronic scene is thriving currently, with a wide plethora of styles and sounds coming from all corners of the country. Deep and jazzy house has been at the fore front of this development, on labels such as Rhythm Section, Church, Distant Hawaii, No bad days and more releasing some stellar eps. With so much to choose from, it is difficult to differentiate stand out producers who have created some more elevated eps and albums that help to really characterise this sound. Laurence Guy is perhaps one of those producers.

Laurence Guy has released some very interesting music in the past few years, largely defined by his signature emotive style that was displayed strongly on his two church releases (that were widely celebrated), along with two other well received 2016 releases on Rose Records and Monologues Records. His brilliant 2017 album release, ‘Saw You For The First Time’, really showcased his talent as a producer, that takes listeners on a fantastic journey through all aspects of his sound. It was an extremely impressive debut LP, and was followed up by an equally impressive EP on Mule Musiq in 2018.

On his latest ep, immediately the listener is taken in a different direction. What remains on the first track, ‘wildlife’, is the soulful chords and depth associated with his earlier releases, what is introduced is a heavier percussive style. Perhaps inspired by the recent revival of 90s UK sounds, such as old skool dnb, jungle ,breaks etc, the tune builds delightfully, starting off with a rhythmically tight percussive feel to the breakdown of break style drums with Guy’s deep chords. A acid line permeates through, with all the elements moving in and around each other effortlessly.

‘Missing in Reaction’ immediately connects back to Guy’s earlier work, with its lovingly warm chords setting the tone. The drums kick in with intensity, rather than delicately, again a sign of an evolved and heavier sound. It is a wonderful split of one step within the newer vibe of the EP, and one step in Guy’s signature sound. This tune, much like the previous, draws on many elements that continually evolve, working beautifully alongside each other. But overall, the focus is all about the beauty of the chords, with the song always drawing back to focus on this element. To complete this sides journey, ‘its good to try’ is a beatless excursion into a dreamy soundscape consisting on a guitar riff with soft chords on top. This provides a fitting end to the energy of the first side, a soft conclusion to wonderfully complex and emotive dance music.

The best named track on the album, ‘my brain is a scrambled egg’, with its 90s inspired stabs and driving drums, descends into a full blown UK sounds inspired rave tune. Much like the content released on Lone’s Magicwire label, the song evolves through stages, bringing in variants of the synth lines. Drums and other elements move in and out smoothly, and for a tune at 9 mins long never fails to provide interest and intrigue through its evolving groove. It is perhaps testament to Guy’s skills as a song writer that this tune retains such a level of brilliance in its transitions as much as it does its musical content and elements.

Perhaps the more wonderful moments on the album comes in the form of ‘are you fine?’, a beautiful drum and bass inspired song with signature Guy chords on top. A gentle reminder of melodic 90s style drum and bass, akin to Good looking Records, mesmerising chords atop the choppy breaks, a tune truly showcasing the familiar with the unknown. Energy, melody and grace are all on show here, again showing the versatility of Guy to blend his style within other genres. Like with side A, side B ends on a fitting climax to the wide ranging percussive display of the previous tunes. ‘I have the feeling I have been here before’ is a beatless and gorgeous synth lead soundscape, immersing the listener one final time before the end of a truly impressive EP.

Laurence Guy blessed us all with a series of eps that transcended listeners with gorgeous melodies and soft glowing feels. This would become his trademark sound, with each release reinforcing that sound, that vibe. Its wonderful to hear both the retentation of Guy's emotive vibes that we have all become familiar with, along with an intelligent integration of 90s sounds that take the music to new levels. The emphatic highs and delicate soft touches are balanced, with a flowing vibe that remains throughout each tune. Almost connecting them together, with the connection perhaps as strong on this record as with Guy's debut LP. This ep is as much a nod to his recent musical output as it is to his roots (as a drum and bass dj), and is a wonderful homage to his former musical explorations, along with proclaiming a difference Guy sound. One that is very much welcome, and one that represents one of the strongest EPs of 2019 thus far.

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