Over the past few years, both Adam Marshall and XI have certainly shown themselves to be talented producers in their own right, but the pair's first EP together as Graze—a project which was profiled in our Bubblin' Up series earlier this week—quite effortlessly contends that the producers may actually have the most potential when working together.
Graze is a substantial EP, one which offers six full-bodied productions clocking in just under 40 minutes. The record shines largely because of its ability to balance bass weight with musicality, not landing on an exact formula throughout, but rather taking a unique, balanced approach with each individual track. Opening cut "The Sust" is one of Graze's most successful outings; it's a low-end-heavy take on machinist house which alternates between thick sampled chords and a buzzing, parrallel bassline, all of which comes topped with chopped breaks and well-placed bits of percussion. The following tracks, "No Save" and "Cathode Bias," take the EP into deeper territory. The former adds a good deal of swing to its Midwestern-style filter sweeps and spacey techno lines, while the following tune is stripped down to its most rhythmic necessities, which are occasionally enhanced by thick bass tones and light, melodic sprinklings.
In the end, it is "Ques," Graze's lone c-side, that might be the record's most memorable effort. The track begins steeped in emotion: An icy pad and an instantly alluring synth sequence slowly build alongside the jacking backbeat for the song's first 90 seconds, eventually locking into a low-swung groove. While "Ques" is essentially built around one melody, the song never falters during its nearly seven-minute run—the subtle changes in arrangement, filters, and barely detectable melodic tweaks supply just enough variation to keep the momentum intact as the expertly assembled drum programming carries it all along.
Maybe it shouldn't be so surprising that, when combined, the talents of XI and Adam Marshall lead to something greater than their respective solo material. Still, not all first-time collaborators sound as natural, confident, and refined as Graze does on its debut EP. And after the duo delivered a release of this quality directly out the gate, it wouldn't be a stretch to expect that its work has the legs necessary to extend into even brighter and more captivating sounds the next time around. We'll undoubtedly be waiting with anticipation to find out.