Late last month we featured an extensive interview with Bob Bhamra, founder of the consistently impressive and increasingly canonized West Norwood Cassette Library imprint (check it out here if you haven’t already). Among other news, he announced an upcoming release from Canadian producer Knowing Looks (also known as Jason Hopfner), whose first release for WNCL earlier this year was met with unanimous acclaim. And now Hopfner is back with a new single, “Listen to My 45″ / “Ghost Baby“, that brings 2011 to a close on an unquestionably high note for himself and for WNCL.
An itchy, amorphous production, “Listen to My 45” nods to the decidedly raw, unfinished qualities of classic house and garage. Nearly everything sounds like it was processed through dusty hardware with frayed connections, resulting in both a pronounced grittiness and a hazy glow. Hopfner initially steers the track towards meandering, laid back house territory before revealing a distorted filter-house production that’s been heavily diced and clipped to marvelous artistic effect. He closes the track with a sparse rhythmic outro, over which he slowly pitches down a tranquil keyboard loop and drives it into abstraction, landing not too far from Hype Williams territory. This one is highly recommended for fans of Gerry Read or anything from the West Norwood Cassette Library catalog.
On the flipside, “Ghost Baby” is surely one of the most bizarrely enjoyable and entertaining tracks of the year, a slice of chaotic screwball house that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The track starts off with an bouncy, minimal-leaning groove a la dirtybird, but then a dissonant funhouse melody materializes out of nowhere, completely infectious yet elusive in its a-melodic (perhaps anti-melodic would be better) form and constant fluctuations around a vaguely-defined center. Around two-thirds of the way through the track spins out of control and comes to a grinding halt, like a turntable going haywire, but comes right back propped up on the shoulders of classic funk breaks that clash beautifully with the track while somehow bringing order to the chaos. In spite of all the dizzying maximalism on display, “Ghost Baby” always makes sense as a whole, demonstrating Hopfner’s immense production talent and potential for the coming year. Don’t sleep on this one!
Knowing Looks – Listen to My 45 / Ghost Baby is out now on West Norwood Cassette Library.