Review: Low Jack – Slow Dance EP

Let’s talk about slow shit, y’know, let’s talk about slow things” slurs a bizarre vocal on Parisian newcomer Low Jack’s debut EP: and so we shall. Its been well documented that there’s been a movement downwards in BPM in some house music circles. Some have been inspired by happy-go-lucky groove trains from the Wolf & Lamb and Soul Clap set, and elsewhere Om Unit and associates have been pushing “slowfast”: but closer to our lane there’s the now-pervasive influence of Kassem Mosse and Workshop. Though quiet and unassuming, their brand of corroded house music has had a strong effect on everyone from the Mancunian techno abstractionists at Modern Love to a whole set of Bristollians seeking to replicate the space and swing of early era dubstep at new BPMs. By and large the fecundity of this new territory is yet to be exhausted, but as evocative as they are, house tracks deconstructed in this way seem to cut the dancefloor from the equation completely. On one side of the divide we have populist floor fillers, on the other dark and deadly home listening tracks. Enter Low Jack to bridge the gap.

Entering with a track called “Slow Dance” is a statement of an intent if we’ve ever seen one, and its insistent filtering percussion and deadly dub baseline make it easy to draw lines of comparison with fellow traveller of the unhurried Kowton. The track builds steadily with a confidence that belies the relative inexperience of the producer. Low Jack’s remaining two tracks work with those themes in a much more interesting way however, centering themselves around incomprehensible fragments of speech, cavernous bass drums and loosely structured synth work. While that might sound like an unlikely recipe for dancefloor success, by religiously fixing his kicks and cowbells in place Low Jack grants freedom for the more unconventional elements to flit in and out without deflating the whole enterprise.

Stream: Low Jack – Look At My Pyramid (Get The Curse)

The Egyptian Lover referencing “Look At My Pyramid” is by far the standout, deconstructing Kraftwerkian tropes and augmenting them to a potent big room template. Its ’80s synth washes and chunky bass make it an excellent companion piece to another favourite of ours, Redshape’s superb 3024 release “Throw In Dirt“, expertly tightrope walking the tension between sex and sleaze with a moody finesse. Continuing the mining of classic machine-funk vibes, “The Manifest” more than makes up for its self consciously goofy vocal with a infectious cowbell and bass jam replete with some sneakily hidden eighties tom rolls. Although corny on paper, the track is augmented with just enough darkness to flip the script and sound dangerous. An unavoidable narrative has formed over the last few years around the resurrection of industrial referencing techno, but the tracks here make a convincing case that the dancer side of post punk can still act as source material for dark club tracks with depth.

Stream: Low Jack – The Manifest (Get The Curse)

Rounding off the release comes a massive coup: the first remix by Gerd Bijl under his Geeeman alias. Across a release on the Clone Basement Series and Rejected, Bijl’s newest project has shown off a tunnel vision for raw Chi-town jack traxx in direct contrast to the sophisticated and intricate work on recent records for Royal Oak and 4Lux. Going HAM on his 909, Bijl ignores the title on his Slow Dance remix, opting instead to break the 125 bpm barrier with a straight-to-the-point drum machine work out. It’s good fun, but it’s an odd pairing that lacks the compulsiveness of instant classics “Rubberband 2” and “Bang’t“. As debuts go this is a strong one, and if you’re outshining Gerd you’re definitely doing something right.

Low Jack’s “Slow Dance” EP is available now on Get The Curse Music.

Simon Docherty