Tom Demac and Will Samson It Grows Again EP
In the grand scheme of collaborations, a meeting of the minds between Tom Demac and Will Samson ranks on the more unlikely end of things. The first is an old hand in the UK tech-house scene, known since the early '00s as a producer of bassline-centric club cuts. The second is a folky singer-songwriter whose output has so far been characterized by cloudy atmospherics and delicate guitar work. Nevertheless, It Grows Again, the pair's debut EP on Will Saul's Aus imprint, finds a middle ground between the two artists' differences that results in something relatively rare at the moment: clean, indie-shaded vocal dance music that actually works.
A large part of this is due to Demac's considerable talents as a producer. His aesthetic is restrained; it's clean in the mid-range, with emotive pads and well-tuned drums. However, his basslines, as usual, steal the show. "It Grows Again," the a-side, uses a hollow acid bassline to tease the ears, but then rounds things out with a heavily distorted (but not abrasive) sub-bass rumble. In lesser hands, this much low end might be muddy, but the mixing is so precise here that each element stands on its own. As a result, there's plenty of space for Samson's voice to take the stage and lead the song through its peaks and valleys. This is, however, also what will make or break this song for a lot of listeners. Samson has a unique way of singing that's atypical of dance music and more often found elsewhere in more acoustic genres. It works, but some might find his voice to be too twee for their tastes.
Much of the same can be said for the EP's b-side, "Chasing Shadows," which features Samson cooing again, although this time Demac pairs him with more loopy shuffling rhythms and a chunky, resonant bassline. It's similarly laid back, but lacks the epic feeling that makes the a-side so compelling. It's better in its second incarnation on the EP, the subtly different "Formula" mix, which punches up the swing on the drums and adds a layer of crackling dirt across the surface that completes the transformation into a late-night, red-lit basement banger.
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