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  • Filed under: Review
  • 12/20/2013

Hackman Change My Life EP

Over the past few years, with releases on RAMP, PTN, Greco-Roman, Well Rounded, and a smattering of other labels, Hackman has steadily honed a sound that draws from R&B, house, UK funky, and garage. His latest release is his first via formidable Bristol imprint Futureboogie, and it sees the producer leaning further than ever before towards vocal-based, R&B-influenced house of a decidedly commercial (at least in the UK) bent. The resulting Change My Life EP is a distinctly soul-tinged affair, one full of well-rounded bass notes and sweeping synths, but the record ultimately presents a sound that is arguably well past its saturation point.

The EP's title track pairs a steady 4/4 kick and clap pattern with some nice, full-sounding Rhodes chords, while a fairly saccharine R&B vocal line is placed over the top. It's the kind of tune that's clearly meant to seduce, but the result is, if not outright grating, completely innocuous. Much better are the EP's other two tracks; "Lost From Me" features breathy, chopped-up vocals and squelchy bass notes, and the chorus manages to achieve an appropriately decadent vibe, but it's "We Make Delicious" that most clearly breaks from Change My Life's conventionality. Based around a raw, tense bassline, the track opts for a moody, downtempo sound, and features lilting, minor-key synths and barely there vocals; still, aside from an appealingly complex rhythm section, the song fails to congeal into anything especially memorable.

If anything, this latest release from Hackman is characteristic of an increasing—and dispiriting—homogenization of underground house music from the UK. Shorn of any of the mongrel, funky-meets-garage-meets-R&B character of his previous releases—such as 2011's excellent, steel-drum-featuring single "Agree to Disagree"—the three tracks on Change My Life instead have a sheen of upwardly mobile blandness, and seem unsure of who they're meant to appeal to.

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