Much of the talk surrounding the release of 20-year-old Suffolk-native Gerry Read’s debut album “Jummy” (out now on Fourth Wave) has revolved around what he has said in interviews and/or the relative lack of interviews he’s submitted to. Since the “Patterns EP” arrived in late 2010, he’s been called the UK house version of (the oft-maligned) Zomby and essentially been branded as a sort of club scrooge. Because, you know, he doesn’t like to dance. The truth is that Read’s identity isn’t anymore obfuscated than the majority of his contemporaries residing in the pseudo-anonymity of the internet. “Jummy” is Read’s first full length and a mission statement of sorts for the uninitiated. Read’s sample-based production methods and cluttered sonic aesthetic dominate throughout the album, which is easily the clearest incantation of Read’s vision to date.
Stream: Gerry Read – Make A Move (Fourth Wave)
At 13 tracks long, “Jummy” is an overwhelmingly busy album with nary a quiet moment. The sound palate utilized throughout is largely made up of live sounding percussion and heavily manipulated jazz samples, lending the album a viscerally physical nature. The cluttered percussion and noodling piano, guitar and brass samples invoke a contemporary big band sound, disarray with a purpose. Take “Make A Move”, a song that doesn’t grow or progress as much as it explodes from within itself. It chugs along like a struggling train, scat vocals, piano and guitar emerging from a cavalcade of hectic drum hits. The struggling train analogy actually works quite well for the album as a whole. It is direct, loud and unhinged (or derailed if you prefer), gasping and churning along with a protean ability to avoid disaster. This is where Read’s past as a drummer and metal fan come into play, allowing him to layer dozens of elements as a band would without losing site of that one driving element. On “Make A Move” that element is the scat vocals. On album standout “Evidence”, it’s the distant piano, operating within the stultified, often jarring, percussive loops.
Stream: Gerry Read – Evidence (Single Edit) (Fourth Wave)
There is a constant threat that “Jummy” will run its course too early and fizzle out in a heap of uncomfortably unorthodox percussion. By the seventh track though, the aquatic “Idiot”, that worry almost entirely dissipates. “Idiot” is more or less a backhand compliment to disco/house revivalists like The Miracle Club submerged miles under the sea. It’s the one song on the album that doesn’t really fit and the result could have been disastrous. “Idiot” has a ton of those submerged, clunky drum hits often found in Mount Kimbie or Airhead songs layered over a base of distortion and general fuzziness. The song is a short outlier in the album’s greater scheme, demonstrating Read’s control over a possibly runaway train and a commendable disregard for convention and hot-as-of-now trends.
As Read’s first full length, “Jummy” offers a concise vision of his previous 12” and an introduction to his unhinged take on house for new listeners. The album’s most intriguing element is that it doesn’t really fit within any existing context. Some songs obviously lend better to headphone listening or club play than others, but the majority fall into a rare middle zone. The context-less, or hyper-contextual if you prefer, nature of “Jummy” is what people will remember years from now when DJs have stopped playing it and everyone forgets the individual track names.
Gerry Read’s “Jummy” is out now on Fourth Wave.