Thefft "There for Me" b/w "Contextual"
Following a two-year hiatus reportedly rooted in distribution problems and legal issues, Ramp's dancefloor-minded sub-label PTN returns with this pair of tracks from jazz-inclined UK producer Jack Robertson (a.k.a Thefft). Roughly speaking, both tunes here pick up where last year's excellent Distronet EP left off; they're built from the same crisp techno synths and slinky garage rhythms that currently dominate the UK underground, but both are elevated beyond their relatively straightforward sound palette thanks to Robertson's flair for unexpected rhythmic changes and subtly evolving song structures.
"There for Me" is fixed around a beat of shuffling hi-hats and crunchy, bit-crushed drum-machine hits. Hollow synth chords and a rounded, throbbing bassline place the track firmly in contemporary techno-tinged-dancefloor territory, while a heavy dose of reversed drum hits and heavily swung percussive lines keeps the whole thing moving along with plenty of energy. To his credit though, when it comes to structure, Robertson avoids the all-too-easy route of white-noise build-ups and predictable bass drops in favor of building tension via unexpected missed beats and wandering melodic lines that intermittently drop in and out of the composition.
B-side "Contextual" blends a stuttering house 4x4 with a melody built around thick, filtered synth chords that spring up on unexpected beats. Twitching hats and misplaced snares offset the upfront synth melodies, creating a glitchy take on peak-time dance music that comes across like a big-room house tune failing to launch. As with the a-side, it's not too far removed from the prominent techno-informed sounds of Robertson's UK house peers, but there is a satisfying level of depth and complexity to the tune. Both tracks here are straightforward enough to get a floor moving, but they're still brimming with the sort of creative flourishes that will have techno connoisseurs nodding in appreciation. Hitting that sweet spot seems to be what Robertson does best.
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