Close Beam Me Up
The accompanying press release for the lead single off Will Saul's forthcoming Getting Closer LP, a first offering under his freshly minted Close alias, is a curious one. "The new project sees him step away from the deeper house and bass sounds that have characterised his own discography," it states, noting a shift from his recent output on Aus and Simple. Given the trajectory Saul has taken alongside contemporaries during the past couple of years, one could at least approximate what a "step away" from those loosely defined genre tags wouldn’t sound like. However, upon listening to "Beam Me Up," that statement feels like a downright misprint; the track is so much a triangulation of the current convergence of deep house and bass—particularly when one factors in the track's title, its collaborators, and those artists recruited for remix duties—that it almost feels like Saul is fielding a fantasy UK house team for the forthcoming Ibiza season.
This isn't necessarily a knock on its quality. Birthed from enough smoke billow to fill a small lounge, "Beam Me Up" tempts the listener. It's initially understated and for an effort with such blatant peak-time aspirations, the attempt to withhold payoff feels noble. The move also calls into question Scuba's feature credit, though his presence is immediately realized once the smog recedes, revealing a bit of the trademark bluster we've come to expect from the Hotflush honcho. Slightly less walloping than "Adrenaline" or "Loss," the track still manages some of the to-and-fro momentum that can leave a big room feeling slathered. For her effort, vocalist Charlene Soraia is really the star here. Playing with the track's dim-lit nature, she meanders in a manner that feels freestyled, coasting through the changes with a handful of false choruses before unloading on the drop. Bearing the track's title, the hook is crafted to latch onto listeners' frontal lobes, where it'll hopefully reside for the remainder of the summer—not necessarily by their own accord, but rather as a result of hearing it played out every damn weekend.
Of the included remixes, George FitzGerald's is easily the victor, perhaps even trumping the original in dancefloor clout. Shearing the fat from the front end, he at once manages to elongate the glorifying hook across the track's runtime and to knock it from its head-high perch into the nose-down nether. It's not all too removed from what we've come to expect from the London upstart, but given his recent scalding streak, it's difficult to complain. Taking into consideration its title and the inclusion of ominous chopper-circling-overhead effects, Scuba's "Dub of Doom" ends up sounding surprisingly staid, only flicking a slight bounce into FitzGerald's equation. For those deriding Paul Rose's plug-and-play formula of the past couple of years, this will only add more fodder to the fire. The wildcard of the lot, mostly in a geological sense, is Hercules and Love Affair. The New York outfit occupies the diva-driven land of the original and as such, one would expect the group to attempt to inject some life into the track's remaining parts. Yet, like the others, this remix too merely adheres to the refrain, soaping Soraia into a Debbie Harry-like lather and padding her with a dainty organ riff that too quickly dissolves into synth-squelch territory.
One the whole, "Beam Me Up" is largely inoffensive, which is precisely why it's likely to get picked apart in the coming months. A batch of remixes that truly rinsed the original into divergent realms would've went a ways towards remedying this, but to hear one is to hear them all. And while this can be read as a credit to Soraia's overarching standout contribution, the rest largely plays more like a head fake than any sort of "step away."
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