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Munir - Circuit EP (Darker Than Wax, 2020)

One of the most refined groove makers going delivers once more with a stunning italo infused EP that transcends the senses and the mind in equal measure.

When injecting your music with a certain level of groove, not just of one kind of groove but multiple, then you're really on to a real winner when it comes to diversity and crafting a spectrum of sound. People who operate within these realms consistently deliver up the goods, paying homage to their roots in disco, funk, boogie and italo, and placing those influences within a tidal wave of intoxicating beats that help to re-contextualise their meaning and feel, a placement that serves us well when in the hands of very capable individuals. The musical landscape has become filled with producers who fuel their desires to make these kinds of sound with a modern twist, willing to go the extra mile in regards to cross referencing both the past and the present, all the while creating something that sounds undeniably fresh and invigorating. If you can craft and weave your own narrative whilst doing so, then its even better, by telling a story that dips and dives around a core sound that is able to incorporate the widest spectrum possible of the sounds that define the most care free and joyous contexts around. We become drawn to producers who dedicate themselves to telling these kinds of audial narratives, an infatuation with their works, a aligning with the flows that shine forth from their meticulously crafted sounds that touch on the past as much as the present. To look back at their discography is to see someone completely invested in the manner in which sounds can be re incorporated into the stylings of today, trying to capture the essence of the moments in time which caused ripples on the dance floor whilst also staying true to the audience now, opening up so many doors in our minds to avenues yet unexplored. We feel the warmth spread through our bodies, a satisfaction that runs deep through the mind and the soul, a careful caressing that moves us to smile and break out into dance, a exuding of good vibrations that transports us to sunnier pastures, away from the humdrumness of every day life to a place of ease and pleasure. We need these kinds of producers, not to just as conjurers of excellence in relation to vibes, but as setters of moods, of feels, emotional healers who give over a style that serves us and our attitude towards letting go. What we would do without them, that's another story, as we continue to enjoy release upon release of bona fide gold, content in the knowledge that whatever flows next will be another piece of the jigsaw, a slice of heaven that fuels our desires and musical tastes.

For a while now, Harry Septiandry has been fuelling those desires within homes and across the dance floor the world over, and the manner in which he does it gets more and more extraordinary with each passing release. Septiandry's musical background is seeped in the traditions of boogie, funk and disco, and his love for the genres shines through in his productions, which via the utilisation of vintage gear have wowed audiences consistently for their groove and authenticity but also the manner in which he accommodates not just a singular thread but multiple within his releases, his vision able to bring together so many brilliant elements into a highly refined yet complex sound. Its this knowledge that when paired with excellent creative vision that has endeared so many to his sound, with people becoming enamoured with the variety that flows from his records, the music touching on all aspects of the past but pairing it with a contemporary feel that keeps the widest range possible. Its the spectrum of sound that continues to define his neverendingly broad sound, one that remains rooted into the aforementioned genres but continues to expand and multiply with each record, a series of self contained experiences that are all bound by a inner core of feel and groove that remains very much his own. You never know quite what might flow next from his finger tips, and therein lies the excitement, the continual endearment to his passions and abilities, a feeling that anything is possible and indeed, the possibilities remain endless, and that just keeps people flocking back for more. Septiandry has largely kept his outputs confined to two aliases, Munir and Midnight Runners, both of which are seeped in his musical ambitions but tell slightly differing tales in regards to the narratives that begin to form. However, no matter what, the distinctiveness of his style shines through so much on every single release that comes through, and that is testament to his abilities in threading it all together so brilliantly. From the Munir back catalogue, some of our select favourites include the sophisticated and timelessly breezy 'Ritmo Echo' record, that arrived in 2016; the retro fresh and funk that exudes from the gorgeous 'Life is a Miracle' EP, that landed in our lives in 2017; and finally, both the LPs released under the Munir name, 2018's 'Grand Paradise Hotel' and 'Eastern Sun', that arrived earlier this year, are both absolutely superb, and well worth checking out if you like a ridiculous sense of variety in regards to mood, feel and groove. From the Midnight Runners side of things, some selected highlights include the sultry optimism that flows from the ultra sleek 'Fantasy Touch', that featured Megan Doherty on vocals, that arrived in 2015; the high class boogie that runs through the veins of the 'Disco Panorama' record, that arrived in 2017; the serious deep grooves that resonate from the 'Kuda Arabs / I Like Funky' single, that landed in 2019; the excellent edits that reside within the 'Tugboat Edits Volume 14' record, that arrived earlier this year; and finally, the absolute stompers that reside within one of this year's standout edit releases, 'Dago 99', that is simply irresistible. What you get from Septiandry's music is fundamentally dancable, but with such depth, quality and inventiveness that you constantly revel in it and crave for more, its irresistible notions unbelievably hard to deny as you are swept off your feet but one of the finest producers going. If you have a moment, and time to dance sweat and smile manically, then we recommend you go back and check out his works. You will feel blessed by the rhythms of life if you do.

And now we arrive at his latest effort under the Munir name, 'Circuit', that lands via the Darker than Wax imprint. Much like with the 'Dago 99' release for Midnight Runners, here we see Septiandry embracing a new side to his sound, one that seems entrenched in the driving pulses that define Italo Disco and all its extra trimmings, but delivered in the expertly driven and highly unique Munir sound. Over four cuts, Septiandry wraps us around the sonic's little finger, tightly bound to the bustling and ever constant energies that pulsate right through the very core of proceedings, occupying all spaces and places within the tracks to give over the highest of energy levels. You'll find yourself enveloped within every aspect of the sound, content to move along to the boundless enthusiasms that shine forth constantly on this excellent slice of wax. Time to plug in and get ready for a trip through to the greatest sunset you can imagine, with the very capable Munir by your side soundtracking every single moment of bliss.....

Up first comes 'Racecar', and we begin with the percussion setting the tone and rhythmic foundation for things to come. Before long we are joined by the sweeping bass line, that smoothly washes over the drumming patterns, with additional light key work adding a delicate layer of melodics, and with that set up we transition right into the main forward driver of the track, and its quite the transition. The bass line moves into this solid as hell sequence, that rises and dips around a central thread, with arpeggio key lines swirling onwards and upwards with ease and pleasure, the track really taking hold of our senses on every level, before the track then moves into its next structure. This time the bass line becomes slightly muted, providing a larger space on top for new lines and sequences to move into view, with the overall picture really something to behold, so much delicate key work and consideration, it all just works so flawlessly. The key sequences then take a moment to allow for a gorgeous key solo to resonate on top of proceedings, with the track using this as a springboard to move into highly intense areas, rounding off the incredible structures that make up this highly engrossing piece of music. A very strong start indeed. 'Pit Stop' arrives next, and its the drums once more that take the lead, this time with a slightly denser and more rhythmically rich feel. The rising fills are complimented by bongos and congas, the spread of percussive elements leading us right into the mix, and before long the kicks have arrived, providing a completeness to the drumming sequences, with the rhythmic mix moving the track onwards and upwards. The kicks grow into the track, providing fast paced moments when required and receding when necessary, and as this moment moves in sight so does the frantic vocal sample, one that rings out over the entirety of the track. This creates a wonderful sense of dynamics, with the vocals matching the ever shifting drumming with ease, the overall picture one of pure expressionism, utilising the bare bones structure of Italo and injecting a hefty dosage of rhythmically rich drumming. The track takes a dip in energy for a moment, providing time for a korg bass line to run its course through the many layers on display, before heading right back into the heat of it all. We could involve ourselves in this track for days on end.

Up next comes 'Finish Line', and this one begins off in very tender emotive territories indeed. The sweeping chiming chords ring true over the opening seconds, their touch and feel impeccable and flawless, sonically excellent and never ending, with their presence allowed to go onwards undisturbed for a few moments. The drums arrive at this moment, starting off with the singular snare before sliding right into the full blown rhythm, and in full flow its quite the sight indeed, as the drums pick up slightly to include numerous other elements, with soft yet energetic key lines moving into view along with some very ethereal vocal work, as the density of the track continually goes up and up with each passing second. The track takes a slight dip in energy to draw focus to the sonics, with the keys moving away from their fullness as they exert a more sporadic energy, with the drums and other melodic features also taking note and following the lead, making for a highly engaging mid section indeed. The bombasticness of it all is highly enjoyable, the flows and rhythms so intoxicating, and just as we had got our head wrapped around them we transcend once more back into the deep swelling synth line, and its absolutely glorious. There's time for one final series of segments that pick up exactly where the beginning of the track left off, taking us through one final movement of sheer grooving excellence. This is a track and a half. To round off one of the finest audial experiences we have had all year, we have 'Interlinked', and this one begins in fairly calm surroundings. This sereneness doesn't last long however, as we are transported straight into a highly infectious beat, hi hats and all abounding with ferocious feel and drive, and then comes the bass line, that simply matches the beat in relation to groove and tone. The two weave a highly compulsive thread indeed, and as we get to know this relationship we get a glimpse into the wider melodic family, as the rising key line aligns itself excellently with the tracks forward momentum, passing through the track like lightening. The excellence doesn't end there, as highly spacious keys swing into view in the backdrop, sweeping across the expansive backdrop with grace and purpose, as all manner of little elements pop up here and there to greet us, as a highly charge vocal sample rings across the plains of existence. The melodics do so much to carry the track through varying segments and structures, signalling the drums to slow and reduce their density and remove themselves entirely from the track to allow the keys to really shine. What we descend into is a beautiful scene indeed, one filled to the brim with colour and mood, one that could light fires in our hearts and minds, and when the drums come back into view its fucking spectacular. The track remains so poised and focused, its singular ambition being to channel right into the depths of the night, the dance, the meaning behind it all. We never felt we would get so spiritual over an italo infused track, but we really had moments when flowing through those wonderful sequences. its pure class, in every sense of the word. A truly extraordinary ending to a record we will revisit endlessly this year and into the next, a slice of wax that delivers on every level, and that is due to the brilliant mind behind the controls.

There remains so much to talk about with this record, not just in its contents but its technique, its feel, its effortless existence. Septiandry has truly conjured up a slice of heaven on this record, his abilities to match and pair sounds within his own really shining within each of the cuts, demostrating his flawless application but also his knowledge and understanding of how musical stylings blend together. In terms of contemporary music makers incorporating italo leanings into their music, this has to be one of the stand out examples of that sub genre, with the bends and transitions - and the impeccable layering - standing out on a record that has so much to offer to listeners. Whether in the heat of the dance, or standing within the sublimeness of nature, this record channels it all into our souls, a caress that champions energy as much as it does the essence of melodics. Fucking stunning. That's it. Bravo.

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