Wednesday, 14 April 2010
PRE-ORDER: Pursuit Grooves - Foxtrot Mannerisms [Tectonic]
In past interviews, Tectonic head honcho Pinch has spoken about there being a well-defined Tectonic ‘sound’ – records that fit its ethos, and those that don’t. The fact that the label has always focused on the deeper, more traditionally ‘dubstep’ end of the bass spectrum might have suggested that its particular sound was locked into that trajectory; so it’s great, if a little surprising, to see his A&R skills branching out with Pursuit Grooves’ Fox Trot Mannerisms taking up the mantra as Tectonic’s first defiantly non-dubstep release, with the New Yorker weaving together a set of curious and beguiling electronic soul hybrids.
There’s still a certain something shared with the rest of the label’s output though. Call it intention, but perhaps what Vanese Smith’s music has in common with Pinch, Peverelist and the rest of the Tectonic roster is a sense of purpose, and an unwillingness to rush in order to reach its destination. As a result this mini-album’s most immediate song, opener ‘Pressure’, is also one of its most languid with Smith’s half-sung, half-whispered chatter drifting in space above lounge pianos and sparing hip-hop grooves. ‘Mister Softee’ is as much a piece of modern jazz as anything else, its spaced-out keys recalling the wide-open vistas of Bitches Brew, and the delicately pieced together haze of ‘Whisper’ is almost delirious in its feverish hyperreality. Hers is undeniably soul music though – released on the same day as the second of Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah albums, it’s possible to align the two’s common ancestry and shared intent.
The other aspect Fox Trot Mannerisms shares with its label’s UK counterparts is a sense of the urbane. Although ‘Tweezers’ could almost be described as pastoral, with its fuzz of distant clicks akin to the chirps of nighttime crickets, Pursuit Grooves’ music has a strong affinity with city life. It’s a balmy summer evening’s breeze through suburban streets, or a twilight headphone stroll through a dodgy area of town where the music acts as a barrier to the real world – or, in the case of the dubstep-tinted ‘Start Something’, vividly enhancing the surrounding environment.
Words: Rory Gibb
London heads can catch Pursuit Grooves at the first instalment of Pinch's new Tectonic residency at fabric on the 11th June, where she'll be playing live alongside sets from Pinch, Skream, Kuedo and DJ ThinKing.