Jacques Greene Ready EP
If there was ever any question as to whether Jacques Greene could continue to evolve and innovate after making such a big splash when he first appeared on the scene, his latest EP should go a long way towards putting any lingering doubts to rest. Landing somewhere in between the R&B-soaked burners which propelled his ascent up the bass-music ladder and the more elongated, introspective pieces (in particular the Koreless-featuring "Arrow") which have come along more recently, the Ready EP is a lush, alluring collection of masterful club music.
The title track begins the EP in somewhat fresh territory for Greene, as the Montreal native builds a shuffling techno beat out of blocks of crisp drums. From the onset, "Ready" has a crunch to it—a thin (but not harsh) layer of distortion lines the track's edges, and as Greene takes us through sequences of deep, undulating synths, the cascading notes and moments of buzz that rise to the forefront, along with the increasing pump of the kick drum, seem to almost become unwieldy. Still, Greene manages to stop off at two separate moments of calm, diverting away from the propulsive flow for two brief moments of rounded synths and incomprehensibly angelic vocal manipulations, assuring us that though he may push us to the edge, he's still always in control. "Prism" comes wrapped with much of the same crunch, its opening moments placing distant pads and melodies underneath an overloaded kick. Eventually, this slight tendency towards distortion is veiled by the dense layers of synths, mainly a UK-indebted bassline and corresponding upper-register melody, which rise from the background to be joined with delayed glimpses of wordless, tuned R&B vocals. Around the minute-and-a-half mark, the bassline shows its full potential, morphing into a four-note pattern that, when aligned with the aforementioned melody (and later on, a spacious arpeggio sequence), makes for the kind of effortlessly catchy musicality Greene has proven able to yield with the most tasteful of touches.
The closing effort, "Dakou," presents the most familiar sound when compared to Greene's past work. Again, there are hints of warm crunch to be heard—especially from the drums—but the more frequent Jacques Greene trademarks are laid out early on: a soulfully re-worked vocal refrain, cascading bell-like arps, and seductive chords. The emotive components playfully weave in and out of the track for almost seven minutes, really doing no more than moving between the background and foreground of the sonic field but somehow still never feeling tired. It's a shame that "Dakou" was made to be the "digital-only" cut from the EP (due, we're sure, to the inherent time constraints of manufacturing quality-sounding vinyl) as, truthfully, it is no less essential an effort than the EP's other offerings.
From beginning to end, the Ready EP is absolute quality, as Greene continues to find a unique and balanced voice amidst the constantly redefining scene that is bass music. What this EP may lack in instant accessibility and R&B hooks, it surely makes up for with its expert execution, sophisticated allure, and raw dancefloor potency.
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