Hackman "Fists of Ham"

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After making a name for himself across a string of top-notch singles and EPs back in 2010 and 2011, Hackman has spent the past 18 months—in lieu of delivering, as promised, a debut full-length—lobbing a number of remixes and a few decent, but still somewhat underwhelming releases, most of which involved collaborative efforts. The "Fists of Ham" single follows suit, repackaging a previously available digital freebie into a two-track 12" that is fine enough, but ultimately lacks some of the qualities which made his earliest efforts so essential.

Hackman's "Fists of Ham" first appeared in January of 2011, when XLR8R (among other sites) was enlisted to offer it as a free download (we've since taken it down at the label's behest). The tune—a glorified edit of Joanna Newsom's harp-folk song "Jackrabbits"—was an intriguing, melodically rich cut that more or less fell in line with the bass-infused, pop-tinged garage hybrids Hackman had proven extremely adept at producing at the time. In its new form here, the track's sonics have been given a welcome tune-up. A new mastering job (and/or possibly a second mix) has yielded a crisper and warmer overall aesthetic, making for a much more professional and club-appropriate product. Although its arrival may be a bit lackluster, "Fists of Ham" is not a bad song at all; led by a pleasant procession of delay-washed harp strums and held together by thick low end and Hackman's proclivity for percussion, the song is clearly aimed at the dancefloor, but is also rich and alluring enough to serve simply as a rewarding listen.

Still, one can't help but wonder how, after 18 months, does "Fists of Ham" now warrant an official release? Interestingly enough, the b-side remix from Dutchman Felix Lenferink makes the best case for the value of this record. With its soulful, half-time skip and deliciously swung chords, the tune in many ways outshines Hackman's original, perhaps only because we haven't had a chance to dive into the track many times before.