The title of Merrisa "Cooly G" Campbell’s newest EP, ArmzHouse, is an appropriate one. The release is full of weapons for the club, one that likes its house music the same way it likes pretzels—twisted. This is the first release from the Hyperdub heroine since her last year’s solid Wait ‘Til Night LP, representing a further example of how Campbell is shedding the vocal hooks and keeping the focus on rhythmic balance—and it's one of her most straightforward and more engaging releases yet. Referencing the past, present and purple-laden future, Armzhouse has a ton of momentum behind every intricately-placed kick and snare.
The opener, “Trippin B,” is somewhat of a throwback in tone, but not in formula; it takes elements of classic late-'80s house, incorporates bassline elements from cuts we know and love—and then splices them, breaking apart the connection between the past and present by adding a synth line that’s curiously enticing. The next cut, “Booboo”, adds some signature Cooly vocal bits and pitch-downed sampling, keeping things fervent and formidable in its structure; the result feels like a filtered reverse-funky house track. Which may sound unusual—but one listen and you'll understand. “Waybay” (featuring Marc Perrineau) follows up by playing it safe and simple, not meandering far from the mischievous house path that it’s on. “Flange City” follows a similar path but falls somewhat flat in its execution; it's a track with interesting elements, yet possessing a narrative that’s not entirely cohesive..
The finale comes via a mercurial magnet of a tune, “Horrors in the Dance”, which tosses elements of grime and funky together on a canvas and makes something spectacularly weird and wonky (in a good way). The tune has a nice callback to previous Cooly G cuts, with her signature kisses stamp kicking off the cut before moving in a direction that we’re familiar with, and finally going every which way to pack a wallop. That’s what ArmzHouse represents, in a way: Campbell is traversing different courses, finagling what works under the Cooly G guise. It’s not perfect, the release has moments that are gratifying and spellbinding. Wherever Cooly G chooses to go next certainly, she'll will have our attention—callbacks, kisses and all.