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  • Filed under: Review
  • 10/22/2012

Rachael You're Driving Me

Since its debut in 2009, Chris Farrell's Idle Hands—now a shop as well as a label—has become a hub of Bristol's scene. Although Farrell has pulled producers from far afield (Kevin McPhee, for example, is from Toronto), the majority of its releases draw on a broken, bassy template which, while referencing everything from jungle and steroidal grime to Detroit techno and slow, Workshop-style house, seems peculiar to the city. Scant information exists on its latest signing, local act Rachael. But You're Driving Me, the project's first EP, falls in line with the label's exploratory tendency.

There is an infectious sense of alchemy at work on its two tracks. The title piece pairs a squiggling, smothered, hollow line with a more subdued one that burrows just below the surface. The producer throws stray, misfiring harmonic lines and odd clusters of open hi-hats at this initial tangle, and the ensuing commotion is only temporarily abated by the insertion of smudgy pads and straight-ahead hi-hats. It's akin to recent Bass Clef tracks in the way it places a jumble of untamable electricity atop a powerful, linear rhythmic grid. On the flip, "Kung Funk" finds the producer in similar territory—at least at first, as a jittery, tumbling rhythm is laced with tweaky Radiophonic interference and a wobbly, slightly off-kilter semblance of a bassline. Out of nowhere, the track undergoes a striking metamorphosis. Much of this early arrangement drops out, and a pointedly slinky, electro-funk bassline emerges alongside chilled, glassy chords. With this gesture, Rachael's dorky tinkering blossoms into luxuriance. Although several unsteady bits are reintroduced, these romantic motifs are too strong to disappear into the mix, and they mark the track until its conclusion. It's a sterling example of tease-and-release. One would hope its abrupt change signals that Rachael's awkwardness has fallen away for good, as this type of idiosyncratic, nocturnal funk is clearly the producer's strong suit.

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