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White Noise: Switchbox – Pirates Poetry

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Switchbox – Pirates Poetry

Label: Ellum Audio

Dance music is a genre where bad words can mean good things. Generally negative signifiers such as dirty, horrible, nasty and dark (among many others) can be the perfect word to describe a great tune, because club music can effectively portray both the positive and negative sides of the emotional spectrum. If you’re a producer, the true word you want to avoid ever having ascribed to your music is ‘forgettable’. But that’s exactly what this release is. As the first of the year on Maceo Plex’s Ellum Audio, one could expect a fairly mainstream approach to big-room Tech-House. Yet the degree to which these tunes are utterly nondescript is still somewhat surprising.

To make it clear, there’s nothing really wrong with these tunes. The A-side, Pirates Poetry, trades in a typical swung stomp and burbling synths. As the track builds, a funky bassline and little percussive breakdowns keep up the momentum. So far, so unremarkable. The only thing that really makes this track stand out is the unfortunate addition of NAtz’s vocals. Her surprisingly disaffected voice adds a particularly meaningless brand of spoken-word poetry to proceedings. Maceo Plex’s Jupiter Jazz outfit, a collab effort with Danny Daze, takes over remix duties and has a little more success, with tougher beats and more compelling bassline riffs. All the same, that vocal still crops up with unpleasant familiarity, drawing attention to the fact that it all just feels a little safe.

The choice of closer is slightly unusual, a Switchbox remix of dreamAwaken’s 8 Bit In A Bit. It’s another polished slice of Tech House, with slightly more impressive synth work, but the ‘Something for your mind, your body and your soul’ vocal before the drop is a little on-the-nose, and little stands out. There’s not a whole lot to fault about Ellum’s latest release in terms of production skills, but there’s very little to praise in terms of originality or big moments at the same time. It works, and could probably keep an over-priced club floor dancing at 5 in the morning, but it’s hard to imagine anyone getting that attached to these utterly average tunes.


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