Lily is a Bristol-based producer whose sporadic work over the past three years has captured our attention by virtue of its off-kilter brilliance. They first came to our attention on the Don’t Be Afraid offshoot Spargel Trax, the oddly affecting “Dollen Haze” standing out on the first volume of that sadly short-lived series, and “Tiwa” popping up a year later on Vol. 3. Lily then appeared on Idle Hands with the euphoric Trumpets At Dawn, before continuing on a Bristolian path with the really rather superb Modern Malaise tape early this year on No Corner (which was subsequently reissued on vinyl as part of that label’s expansive From The Reels collection). Going full circle, Lily has returned to Don’t Be Afraid, or at least its DBA Dubs arm, with a 10″ of infernal noise.
“Memory Jacket” is an odd track. To return to No Corner, one might mistake this track for the work of El Kid or Vessel. Following the trajectory of this artist, however, it’s clear how they’ve ended up here. Further and further into the Bristol minefield, their sound has been full of twisted intrigue, and the nightmare stomp of “Memory Jacket” is the logical end result. A growling, penetrating lead bass line is the centre piece of the track, surrounded by rolling kick fills on different levels and a pained series of eerie vocal oohs. Industrial rattles and hints of themes judder through without making a full impression, never lasting more than a brief moment. A lengthy outro then takes the track home just as it seemed to get going, leaving listeners confounded and dissatisfied. Even more intriguing, if that were possible, is a remix from Madteo, no stranger to bizarre territory. In this case, the remix is bizarre in its palpable difference to the source material. Where the original evoked sinister visions of figures lurking in shadows, this is an uplifting house jam by comparison. Just as the original ended with 40 seconds of haze and fuzz, this one kicks off with almost two minutes of introductory beatlessness, which preface the track’s swagger with syncopated pads before fading in irrepressible kicks and claps. It’s not without its curios, however. Whirrs and clanks keep it grounded in weirdness, a constant throb of bass almost an incessant irritant as muted vocal snaps lend further prurience. Its seven-plus minutes simply fly by in joyous rapture. Going back to this sub-label’s first entry, it’s important to note that the manifesto remains unchanged – these cuts are indeed all crucial. Worlds apart, they work on their own and any other damn terms.
Lily – Memory Jacket is forthcoming on DBA Dubs