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  • Filed under: Review
  • 02/20/2012

The M.E.B. "Il Principal"

New York has long maintained a healthy tendency towards house revivalism. You might say that the Big Apple has, since the early '00s, assumed the mantle of a Stateside center for a style of dance music that blends a retro-minded sensibility with new-school sonic aesthetics. Though the city houses many DJs and labels, only a few regular parties specialize in this sound, one of which is Let's Play House, the roving event put on by edit maestro Jacques Renault and journalist Nik Mercer. Last year, the party capitalized on its successes and evolved into a label with the release of Runaway's "Indoor Pool," an ode to Le Bain's infamous jacuzzi. Now, the party-cum-label has spread itself further with the release of The M.E.B.'s "Il Principal"

You're forgiven if the name The M.E.B. doesn't sound familiar. It's a new collaborative project from London-based producers Ben Shenton, Tim Silver, and Chicken Lips' Dean Meredith. "Il Principal" is the trio's debut release, a four-track affair with two originals and two remixes.

First up is "Il Principal," a sparse and driving house cut featuring a razor-sharp bassline that bounces along the mix like a SuperBall made of concrete. Disco congas provide a pocket of Latin percussion that's glued together by lurching ambient voicings and hyper-crisp claps. It's a good tune, though its minimalism robs it of a definable quality to latch on to. This is where mysterious producer Chicago Damn's remix comes into play. In typical fashion, he strips the song of its high end and plunges into a submarine tank of stoned keyboard riffing and heavy reverb. In his hands, the track is transformed from an interlude into a late-night banger, the kind of thing that can hold its own next to something like After Hours' "Waterfalls (3AM Mix)."

Next up is "M5-M6." A twisting and heady exploration of mental space, it's the lone track on the EP that probably wont see much dancefloor play. Instead, its squiggling riffs and chugging Krautrock-style rhythms make for excellent couch-locked headphone fodder. Here again, the remix bests the original. Brennan Green plays with the track's sense of space, expanding its scope to incorporate a sinister opening riff that sounds like it was ripped from Vangelis' Blade Runner score. He further diverges from the original by tying its headiness to a grounded and insistent four-on-the-floor. Effortlessly teasing elements in and out, he creates a dynamic range that eventually builds into a slow-burning piano-house number. Along the way, he manages to escape the trappings of its genre through sheer trippyness. It's the kind of record that a DJ might play about an hour before the evening winds down. At a cool 118 bpm, it's the perfect speed for that one last boost before daybreak.

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