Fort Romeau "Jetée" b/w "Desire"
With his 2012 debut LP Kingdoms, London producer Mike Greene (a.k.a Fort Romeau) distinguished himself as one of the standout artists amongst the seemingly endless wave of vintage-house revivalists emerging from the UK right now. While it would be a misnomer to suggest there's anything particularly original about his classically minded brand of ever-so-slightly lo-fi house, both Kingdoms and the excellent "SW9" single that followed it were notably soulful works, drenched in an obviously loving appreciation of the dusty nuances of the original source material. Still, faithful nostalgia will only carry an artist so far, which is why it's pleasing to note that this latest pair of tracks—which find Greene emigrating from 100% Silk to the perhaps more fitting home of Michigan's Ghostly International—see him adding a handful of slightly more progressive tricks to his production palette.
"Jetée" isn't exactly a complete reinvention, but it sounds noticeably cleaner and more contemporary than most things we've heard from Fort Romeau before. The dusty, faded vinyl quality has been dialed down in favor of bright, melodic synths, and while the track is still focused around the same disco-inspired stomp that characterized most of Kingdoms, Greene adds extra weight to the groove with an infectious delayed synth loop. It's during its latter half that the track really comes alive, as Greene opens things up melodically, letting the track build to a crescendo of delayed arpeggios before dissolving into a gorgeous, understated piano outro.
Slower-paced b-side "Desire" is the pick of the two, however. Here, Greene makes room for a more spacious beat, one built of rolling delayed handclaps and intermittent outbursts of syncopated percussive synths. Muted pads and a sporadic, filtered melody summon the same soulful vibes as the more placid moments of Greene's debut LP, but the track feels far less concerned with replicating classic house moves than his previous work, and is instead allowed to unfurl in a more unpredictable manner. It might only be a minor step in a different direction, but both tracks here are enough to reassure us that there's more to Fort Romeau than an ability to recreate the best moments from his vinyl collection.
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