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  • Filed under: Review
  • 06/21/2013

Najem Sworb Renow

Strasbourg's Najem Sworb has one of those comic book names which, like Kassem Mosse or Anom Vitruv, seems to promise something left of center. He has had a smattering of releases in varying styles, but really came into his own on Severance and Occupy-WS, released for the Metis label in 2011 and 2012, respectively. These 12"s combined tangled, warehouse-ready rhythms with an otherworldly sense of melody. Evidently, they also catapulted Sworb to the attention of Rotterdam institution Clone, which is backing his Renow EP. On its four tracks, the producer amps up his dancefloor side at the expense of his psychedelic strongpoint.

One wonders if this is meant to cater to the label in some way. It isn't difficult to understand why these tracks have been signed, nor is it difficult to imagine Clone DJ associates like Steffi and Untold working them into their sets. Renow has a bluntness that slots comfortably alongside Clone's recent tendency to revive function-based dance tracks, particularly in the ghetto-house sphere. The same powerful kick drum runs throughout, making each piece seem like part of a longer session. This equals both coherence and homogeneity. Where Najem Sworb's prior outings seemed to be in constant, haphazard flux, Renow feels calculated down to that foundational drum sound. Compared to those early efforts, "Millisecond Pulse" might be the work of a different producer altogether—it's practically monotone, as static-laden synth stabs open up into rippling drapes around a persistent clave pattern. These elements largely carry on into "Noice Noise," and it is only on the title track that Sworb's former playfulness is glimpsed. The track is very much of a piece with the others, but its gloopy square bass, slight pads, and bleepy half-melody lend it a touch of color. "Some" closes out the proceedings with another propulsive—if fairly stock—techno track, led by clicky rimshots and murky chords. Still, when placed next to either of his Metis records, these tool-like tracks are clearly not the producer's most interesting work. They stand a better chance at moving sets along than moving hearts and minds.

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