London's Phonica record shop originally set up its Phonica Records label, at least in part, as a vehicle to put out tracks created by the shop's staff, with Hector Murillo and Anthea Nzekwu contributing to early releases. Here's hoping the two were awarded Employee of the Month status for their efforts—Hector's inaugural track for the label, "Tension" (produced with Ben Bryant) was a masterful nine minutes of brooding, dubby techno, while Anthea, working under the JC Freaks moniker with Werner Niedermeier, came up with "Dub Praise," a subtly jazzy slice of skippy deep house. Those two early harbingers were not only a sign of the label's range—focusing on four-to-the-floor rhythms, but happy to work around house and techno's edges—but also its attention to high-grade work. Six years and 16 or so releases later, and that adherence to quality control is still there, as its latest record, the Obsession EP from Russia's mysterious Art Crime, proves.
Art Crime's previous output, the Never Look Back EP (released on William Burnett's W.T. Records) was something of a revelation—in particular the succinctly titled cut "Release," a shimmering, deceptively simple piano-house piece that conveyed joy and melancholy in equal measure. That's more or less the same vibe you'll find in Obsession's title track, with warm pads, tinkling keys and three-note bassline evoking something of a last-song-of-the-festival, eyes-toward-the-sky feel. It's a beauty, as is the tougher "Show Interest," its angelic synth work anchored by a propulsive rhythm and hard-charging low end. On the flip side, "Eye Contact" is another piano-lead number, but trades in the simple chord pattern of "Release" with more complex, chillier keyboard action—and then there's "Rise Fall Run," a celestial, quivering cut that's downright sublime. It's not exactly prime-time, full-on dancefloor fodder—but it's safe to day that Art Crime is reaching for something on a slightly higher plane.
Click here for more on Art Crime's 'Obsession' EP.