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Son Milton - Memory Haze (No Shallow Pool, 2019)

All the motions and emotions on this superb debut EP from the Glasgow based producer.

Ahhh Glasgow, the city that fell for dance music. What started during the late 80s invasion of Detroit Techno and Chicago house, lead to a fully fledged movement across the country. The second summer of love, acid house, raves, drugs, community, togetherness, you name it, it happened, it developed, it flourished. Glasgow was one of many epicentres of these new scenes, but this relationship between the American sounds and the largest city in Scotland was perhaps more intrinsic than many other cities in the UK. You can feel the music of yesterday running through the veins of today, the sounds swirling around the harder rawer productions of the current generation. To experience it is to experience a city that has a clear and powerful musical identity, only reinforced by the current crop of producers making their mark in Scotland and beyond.

This debut EP for No Shallow Pool comes courtesy of Son Milton, and oh boy is it dripping with the good stuff. As described by the label, the producer was drawn to the sounds of the classic Detroit/Chicago era of 90s house and techno, the rawness, the emotion and the groove. These sounds were permeating through the nightlife scene of Glasgow throughout the decade, and Son Milton here does a fantastic job of channelling the old school energy through into a new, refreshing light. Matching excellent riddims with perfectly selected synth tones and moods, this EP feels like a curated journey through the annuals of techno, house and everything in between. An amazing trio of songs that are both extremely dancy but at the same time emotive, with both elements allowed to breath and exert their influence over each other. The little variations, the use of little synth lines interlaced with vocals, not to mention a Linkwood produced cut on the B side, make for compelling listening, a series of journeys you'll wanna go on again and again.

First up we have the title track, that starts out innocently enough. A soft hazy synth hums away on top of a heated yet gentle drum beat, before the hi hats come in and elevate the track just a little. It's an almost weirdly sudden yet minor introduction, that adds a lot more colour and texture to the track. The synths here take an interesting tangent, rising high above the beats to be heard and seen, and their feeling is intense, they almost feel tangible, jumping out of the track and into our minds. The track kinda combines the Detroit techno downtempo tracks with an actual beat, as these synths would work wonders if they were also left to their own devices. The track takes its time, allowing us to soak in the lushness of it all, before it all breaks down, the synths crescendo over a bed of bass kicks, before it all just jumps back in. Triumphant, but it toys with us as the beat moves away before returning to its original path. Gorgeous stuff. Up next comes 'Minerals', and again we are treated to an excellent beat exercise to start things off. Reverbs clatter around over a solid Chicago beat, the cymbals working over time over a scattering of toms and kicks, all acting as this pulsating groove that is just setting us up for something. Its that anticipation of something going to happen, you just now it is. It all drops away, and the pads come in, a simple little line of three chords, but every single drop of emotion is squeezed out of these chords. The bass line lightly chugs away underneath, as we move through the phases towards what might be the climax. A little acid type line comes into play, pulsating away inbetween the soaring chords and the excellent drumming, adding that little extra layer of intrigue into the mix. Then once again the song drops away, giving way to a breakbeat that subtly comes into play. A vocal line thrown in for good measure, its all so damn good, and somewhat expected yet unexpected at the same time. The rhythm feels like its been deconstructed, new kicks put in, as it all builds up, and the cymbals link it all back together. This is the one, holy shit!

To finish things up, we have 'Capybara'. This one starts off slightly more filtered than the previous two tracks, the drums slightly withdrawn, with the aim of giving the key element of this track centre stage; that bass line, cooorr. This leads the way, chugging along as little pads move from under to over and back again. Its really cool how this element really takes prominence, allowing for all the intricate keys to play around delightfully all over this enchanting tune. And then that melodic element comes in, the little key line that just sprinkles on that little bit extra something special. Everything feels very blissed out, again the notion that every single chord and element is dripping with emotional overload remains strong. Yet this blissed out energy is welcome after the percussive triumphs of the A side, allowing the listener to slide up to cloud 9. The track just plays out like this, the bass keeps rolling, the keys keep surprising, and it all just makes sense.

Son Milton may have produced one of 2019's most impressive debut displays on this. Nuggets of the past shine through with invigoration, a homage of sorts, but the contemporary touches elevate it beyond the realms of clique and through to its own level of excellence. Outstandingly produced, effortless in its transitions, timing its delivery through passionate use of synths, this EP has the lot. A must listen, and for any vinyl head who's into that balance of emotion and drums, buy on sight. Seriously.

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