Bubblin' Up: Gerry Read
- Words: Glenn Jackson
For much of 2011, a year that saw newcomer Gerry Read release a defining trio of singles for the Fourth Wave imprint, the shadowy producer from the North of England was a mere 19 years old. In the current era of electronic music, a time when it seems like ever-younger artists are apt to make waves, this may not be the most surprising of facts. However, when listening to the six sides of vinyl Read was responsible for last year, it's not obvious that the music is the work of a young artist finding his step. On the contrary, it sounds like something put together by a mature producer, one who has perhaps seen the trends and thought better of following them, instead choosing to forge his way with a different sound. "I was bored of trying to come up with post-happy-future-garage bollock step," says Read, so he didn't, and because of that, the electronic-music community has taken notice.
To be fair, Read was initially just as interested in exploring the possibilities of a post-dubstep landscape as were most of his UK contemporaries. His debut EP, Patterns, was a promising outing of gritty garage, with moody chords, pitched R&B vocals, and shuffling percussion strewn throughout its three cuts. But somewhere down the line, he began to move his efforts towards the abstract side of house. According to Read, "The fact that I knew nothing about it got me interested, to see what I could do, because I didn't have any influences from that genre." Listening now, it's hard to not hear the possible influences—the rough textures he utilizes to build his own brand of house are not that far off from those of abstract house stalwart Pépé Bradock, and his sampling technique is at times strangely reminiscent of the short repetitive chops found on Jan Jelinek's Loop-finding-jazz-records. But the most strongly underlying influence to be heard in Read's work is that of Midwest house and techno, heard in the low-slung swings, loose grooves, and pointedly soulful samples he uses to build his tracks. This is most apparent on the first single of the Fourth Wave trilogy, "Untitled" b/w "Legs," which introduced Read's new sound via layered chunks of Detroit-style soul atop persistent beats, overdriven percussion, and coatings of crunchy static.
"Untitled" b/w "Legs"
In only a matter of months, the second and third installments of the trilogy saw release, and with them Read's production abilities continued to show their depth. The second pair of tunes, "We Are" b/w "Narry," proved to be the most UK-indebted, with the lead track following an arrangement not unlike Joy Orbison's "Hyph Mngo" or some similar post-whatever anthem, only with the futuristic soundscapes and space-age drum programming replaced by warm, warped samples and hiss-laden percussion. The final piece of the puzzle, the "All by Myself" b/w "What a Mess" 12", is the most refined of Read's releases, toning down the distortion which appeared at every corner of his previous efforts, and using the increased sonic space to highlight some sunken, heavy funk. The elements of Midwestern house and techno are again gushing from these two selections, but "All by Myself" and "What a Mess" would never be mistaken for simple pieces of Motor City admiration, as Read's bizarre pilings and intriguing combinations are entirely his own.
"We Are" b/w "Narry"
When asked about his process in creating these tracks, Read is as brief as his apparent workflow, which entails him utilizing a small number of loops and a stripped-down studio set-up. "[That's] the only way I know how to make tunes now," says Read. "Making music loses its purpose for me if you're spending five years tweaking a hi-hat." The looseness and natural flow which has characterized all of his tracks to date can be attributed to the mostly improvised method with which the tunes are put together. He explains, "The arrangements are all freestyled recordings. I haven't got the attention span to copy and paste loops for five minutes and think about transitions too much, so I do it live with a MIDI controller." It may seem like a fly-by-night approach, but it is this utterly in-the-moment producing that kicked off Read's recent success, as he admits that he only landed on the sound for the first edition of his trilogy after deciding "to try make something really quickly using my own drum samples," which lead him to complete "Untitled" and "Legs" in the span of three hours.
Now 20 years old, Gerry Read's future is wide open, and the Suffolk County resident appears to be poised to make 2012 as prolific as his first year on the scene with a forthcoming debut full-length (which he's also done the artwork for) set to drop sometime in March or April on Fourth Wave. In addition, he's eager to mention the forthcoming Yeh Come Dance EP for Delsin, a record he's "proper excited" about. As to be expected, Read's not ready to settle into a sound, and when talking about the LP, he mentions that the songs—all of which are new—are "more progressed, deeper versions of the singles" that are "probably more headphone friendly than club friendly. Some of them aren't house at all." Whatever they end up being, Read's debut LP will undoubtedly showcase another step in the development of this young talent, and—despite Read's own inclinations—have at least a cut or two that's perfect for the world's adventurous dancefloors.
"All by Myself" b/w "What a Mess"
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