Jack Dixon You Won't Let Me
The latest output from rising London producer Jack Dixon is the second release from the recently resurrected R&S offshoot Apollo Records, an imprint primarily known for the its extensive output of ambient music in the '90s. Although it's difficult to determine a trend with only two records, Apollo's focus seems to have shifted upon its rebirth, as Dixon's EP makes only passing reference to ambience, instead striving to act as another voice in the growing and evolving conversation taking place between house, techno, and garage. On You Won't Let Me, Dixon blends these styles with a dose of easy-going laptop pop for a record that is eminently enjoyable, even if it's not quite unique enough to separate it from the pack.
The EP's first song and title track, "You Won't Let Me," is the song least focused on the club, and the record's most direct link to the Apollo sound of the past. It's also a departure from the firmly dance-oriented cuts of Jack Dixon's recent Knowledge EP, and introduces listeners to the hazy textures that remain prevalent throughout the four-track effort. Vocal snippets pepper "You Won't Let Me," first only in short breaths, and later in drifting, elongated pieces that follow the spacey synthwork. The song recalls the dreamy house productions of countrymen Joy Orbison and Midland—minus those artists' club-ready rhythms—and is sure to catch the ear of fans of shimmering bedroom pop. It may not gush with originality, but it does find Dixon displaying a superlative grasp of production technique and song construction.
On "Saviour," Dixon moves solidly into dance territory with a funky rhythm and a grooving bassline. A strong emphasis on atmospherics remains, but the tune adds a sense of punch and drive not present on the title track, while sustained synth notes and pitch-bent vocal snippets interact with stabs in an unusual, but still sonically pleasing, manner. "Everytime" features an excellent drum pattern that mixes house's typical four-on-the-floor kick with creatively constructed hi-hat and snare sounds that follow a garage-style rhythm. The song's vocal snippets are culled from Jordin Sparks' uninspired "Tattoo" from 2007, and aren't chopped or bent as much as the samples on the previous two selections. It remains an impressive effort, even though the vocal bits are more prominent and perhaps a tad superfluous.
You Won't Let Me closes strong with "Black Paint," which is both dancefloor friendly and an enjoyable home listen. Like the rest of the EP, "Black Paint" does contain vocals, but on this tune, they have been processed to take on the tone and timbre of an instrument. As such, they harmonize well with the track's pleasant synth melody and soothing bassline. The percussion on the track is well crafted, using both interesting sounds and a rhythm that compliments the song's dancefloor-meets-bedroom vibe.
On the whole, Jack Dixon shows great promise on You Won't Let Me, but remains an artist who is finding his own voice. The producer does prove that there is a place for him in the current melting pot of dance music, but more adventurous songwriting—rather than impressive re-application of established musical motifs—will be required if Dixon wants to continue on his current upward trajectory.
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