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  • Filed under: Review
  • 08/23/2013

Kelpe Monte Verità

As one might expect from its name, DBA Dubs is a fairly bare-bones, 10" offshoot of Semtek's Don't Be Afraid imprint. The practice of solely putting out an artist's strongest tracks, rather than its parent label's more labored-over EPs, has its perks. Kelpe (a.k.a. Kel McKeown) has a loose style and a deep catalog; he's made many of these longer records, few of which have fully been aimed at the dancefloor. Monte Verità affords him this opportunity, but he doesn't take it (though Kevin Reynolds, on remix duty, manages to capitalize). The record's original is as typical a Kelpe piece as one is likely to find.

Fortunately, few artists do quite what McKeown does. Even on the eclectic D.C. Recordings roster, where he first made his name, he stood out; his alien downtempo took cues from his labelmates and producers like Maurice Fulton, constructing electro-funk from an arsenal of decaying synthesizers, but his grasp of hooks has always seemed a lot stronger than that of his peers. "Monte Verità" is initially ruled by a wobbly synthline and slow, slippery drums. After an early build and release, the synthline is swapped for a fizzier, more robust one, before the first line returns again to compete for the listener's attention. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that the track is in constant flux, and while its sense of emotion is somewhat abstracted, its elements are keenly arranged. Kevin Reynolds' take is a thin stomp that at first seems quite similar to the original. This changes when flitting arpeggios and a liquid rave vacuum enter, transforming the track into a charger. The drums just get tougher as things progress, but its melodic parts brighten in contrast; Reynolds' spacing provides a fine alternative to McKeown's densely woven original.

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