Bobby Champs Steve Martin EP
Although Bobby Champs has only two official releases under his belt, he has already honed in on a specific sound and style. The Brighton-based producer's first record, the Drag Queen EP, was published earlier this year and delivered four tracks of punchy techno peppered with cheeky vocal snippets, a formula best personified by "Charlie," which employed a sneering "Doing drugs, selling drugs" hook over a dark, stark clomp. His sophomore EP, Steve Martin, employs similar elements: chunky kicks, elastic percussion, eyebrow-raising spoken samples, and a neat, glossy finish.
"NYC Panther" starts with a straightforward, marching kick and dark synth stabs, but adds the flavor of unusual vocal samples that come in full sentences or clipped phrases. "I know kids that are 18 years old driving Mercedes Benz/Here I am, three times 18, and can't afford Benz," laments one disembodied voice. The airtight beats all smack and pop like a basketball being dribbled against concrete, each of them a testament to Champs' exacting hand as a producer.
The EP's tracks do share a certain sonic commonality, but overall, they feel like three independent—and overly straightforward—singles. For all their cheekiness and precision, Champs' production lacks challenging and compelling ideas that might unite the songs—emotionally, stylistically, or otherwise—more effectively. The EP's most notable motif is its verbal content; on "Steve Martin," a vocalist flickers in and out of the mix talking about "the best kid in town," which vaguely relates to the topic on "NYC Panther." But the relationship doesn't seem much deeper than the fact that both tunes layer cheeky vocal samples about fortunate young people over clipped, smacking percussion and tightly wound breaths of flashing synths.
As a result, the Steve Martin EP feels more like a few homogenous tracks rather than a cohesive statement; ultimately, it goes a bit stale by the end of a straight-through listen. In fairness, Champs' work here is not without merit; he demonstrates the ability to craft clean, biting singles, and his choice of vocal samples is as weird as it gets. It would be a shame if Champs has already begun to draw hard and fast lines for the limits of his sound, because he's laid the groundwork for a precise, strong style. It may be a little limited now, but there's plenty of time for him to improve.
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