Review: James Braun – Massacre EP

Copenhagen; the capital and largest city of Denmark. Also considered one of the most environmentally friendly cities throughout all the world, yet also ranked in the top 10 most expensive cities to live in. However, it seems like a high exposure to good tasting air and high priced beer, also comes alongside great music as it’s also the place of origin of Fredski and Tomboy’s Tartelet Records, one of the finest house and techno labels to emerge in the last three years. Releases such as The Schwarszchild Solution Trilogy from past Truancy Volume mixers Kenton Slash Demon remain faultless in their way of amalgamating pure dance floor energy and a real sense of musical jubilance. It’s not just Kenton Slash Demon who have contributed to such a great label though, as talented German trio Wareika, delivered one of the most underpriced pleasures of 2010 in the form of their debut album Formation, that received positive responses from the likes of Resident Advisor. In short, it was a little bit amazing.

Another Tartelet regular, returning as part of his third offering to Tartlet Records is Danish producer James Braun, who sets to release his three track Massacre EP on the 20th June. For those glancing their eyes over the name James Braun for the first time, the man has had a small but high quality selection of releases on labels such as Mothership and Sleaztone records, delving and experimenting into the deep simplistic, percussive spectrum of House and Techno. His last outing back in 2010 was the single Symphonia which came backed with heavyweight remixes from Dirty Bird and Mothership head honcho Claude Von Stroke and Tartelet co owner Tomboy, under his own name alias Tomas Barfod. This time round he adopts no remixers, solely deciding to take the listeners through his own creations, a move I respect giving the current trends of releases with six to seven remixes.

The EP commences with title track “Massacre”, the longest track of all three at a whole nine minutes in length. Despite its length I’d also class it as the most vivacious track off the EP. Kicking things off with jazzy sounding piano samples and a conventional four by four kick pattern, the track then opens up with a whirlpool of assorted hi hats that gradually fall in and out throughout the duration of the track. I wouldn’t as go as far as calling the track simple, as there’s always something going on that requires a constant working of the feet but it’s the way things casually filter in and out, that may not have been immediately obvious to the ears on first listen, that really do the track justice. One of my favourite sections of the track is around 6.20 minutes in where the track is stripped right down to just the hats and bass. The production is so freakin on point and its one the grooviest breakdowns I’ve heard in so long.

Whilst Massacre is a straight up House banger, the first track on the B Side titled “Retrace Your Steps” oozes a much bigger influence from Techno. It’s on a darker tip, almost eerie sounding and wouldn’t feel out of places at some party still going on at 5am in Berlin. You really can’t question the power of the bass line in this track. It’s so prominent yet lingering in the background that you could almost cut the tension in the air with a knife. At around 2 minutes in things really start to get interesting when deep pad stabs and smaller echoed ones that scream Berghain are introduced. The track then progresses in a similar way that Massacre does slowly bringing things in and out with the casual use of filters. The use of hi hats are is much lesser than its compadre but that bass line deals some serious damage.  Fans of their stripped back Techno will absolutely adore this. Last on the release is “Slapper“, the dark horse of the EP. It’s the shortest and also the slowest, bringing the tempo right down in a similar vein to some tracks on the recent Call Super release we recently reviewed. Again, he opts for the presence of a piano this time on a  more grand scale. The melody is repeated as hats and kicks give the track body. I’m not entirely sure how to describe the sound that enters at 1.38, its like a mixture of white noise and a synth line that weaves it’s way in and out of all the other layers. On paper it doesn’t seem to work but as a whole it’s one of the most interesting and more experimental tracks on the whole release. As a new set of piano keys emerge near the end to coincide with the other piano melody it’s a real grande finale to a set of tracks that leave you wanting more yet completely and entirely satisfied.

A1 Massacre by jamesbraun
B1 Retrace Your Steps by jamesbraun
B2 Slapper by jamesbraun


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