Marquis Hawkes Sex, Drugs & House
Marquis Hawkes' first EP attracted enough attention to create some low-level controversy around its nods to ghetto house, sonic and otherwise. Cabrini Green took its name from the infamous Chicago housing project lobbed into the popular imagination by the '90s horror movie Candyman, and its a-side opened bluntly with a track called "Housing Project," whose sound bristled with what some saw as stolen energy. Raised in the UK and currently based in Berlin, the producer's latest for Glasgow's Dixon Avenue Basement Jams—and third release overall, following the Higher Forces at Work 12" from earlier this year—shows no indication of changing his basic approach, although it intimates that there's more stylistic range to the Marquis Hawkes alias than meets the ear.
"Acid Snowfall" is the sound of Marquis Hawkes touching on new territory at his own pace. A restrained 303 line surfs over more expected elements—cycling, 16th-note hats and stuttering vowel samples—but its fascination with its own contours pushes the rest of the sample pads back just far enough to give it an unusually contemplative reserve. Less nuanced is "Get Yo Ass off My Grass," which is as undeniable as it is obvious. Hawkes packs in the cowbells, and it's hard to decide if the results are numbly jacking or jackingly numb. The scolding sample of the title doesn't do Hawkes any favors in the appropriation department, yet it's hard to detect notes of cynicism or opportunism. It's the most physically commanding thing he's committed to wax yet, as remarkable for its heft as for the DJ Koze-like sonic hiccups perforating its steely roll. "Hold On" gives R&B samples a brief new lease on life, speeding up and pitching down Kelis' "Finest Thing" vocals to androgynous effect over a nervous, snare- and tom-happy groove. The feeling is unsettled, even tense in a way that relishes the song's anxious subtext, but Hawkes gives us a few uplifting dabs of organ when it all gets a bit claustrophobic.
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