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  • Filed under: Review
  • 11/18/2013

Arkist "Summer Shimmer" b/w "Whipper Snapper"

Bristol producer Adam Gazla (a.k.a. Arkist) knows his way around dubstep, drone, garage, and minimal bass, but for his latest single on Apple Pips, he's elected to embrace discoteque bliss with two upbeat, physical crowdpleasers. Diverging wildly from the throwback garage on this year's earlier Never Forgotten EP, "Summer Shimmer" is an unabashed slab of funkified house, complete with a wah-wah guitar line, arpeggiated keys, and a grimey bass that churns through the mix with the timbre of a chain smoker. Despite the cut's sensually arresting, elaborate production, it never feels indebted to any intellectual exercise; each radiant synth layer, acidic melody, and disco-friendly percussive element is fully in service of body movement. In a surprisingly brief five-and-a-half minutes, the piece's sharply defined peaks and valleys announce themselves to great effect, as barely audible wisps of collaborator Lee Risdale's vocals peek through and then later return with overdubbed strength.

Bright piano chords form the heart of "Whipper Snapper," a more drawn-out cut with jazzy synth scats and a straightforward disco tempo. Light vocoder melodies drop in around the halfway mark; a line can be drawn to Discovery-era Daft Punk, but only a tenuous one, as it sounds like Gazla only got to the album after it had been scrapped for parts, leaving him with just a few of the robotic duo's synth utterances to work with. Lacking some of the percussive power and sonic diversity of "Summer Shimmer," the track stretches some rhythmic patterns a little too long and doesn't possess the overt dynamics of Arkist's remarkable a-side, but remains a fully serviceable, quality counterpoint. As "Whipper Snapper" winds down its bare piano refrain, a moving sample of children playing together rings out in a rich echo, adding another shade of depth to Gazla's dance-focused work. Like the alliterative, whimsically rhyming words Gazla uses for his song titles on this single, the focus here is unadulterated fun, with no despair or cynicism to be found.

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