For his debut release, Hubie Davison has demonstrated a sense of artistic clarity and originality that most veteran musicians would be proud to call their own. I Won't Be There does borrow from some of the more obvious bits of the 2013 zeitgeist—twisted vocal hits, R&B and classic-house influences, for example—but perhaps due to his study of music composition in London, Davison sidesteps musical redundancy by creating a novel foundation for his aesthetic.
Structurally, I Won't Be There shares some common ground with Four Tet's more recent output, as Davison crafts extended sections that layer musical elements to great atmospheric effect. That said, he's undoubtedly an artist with his own particular style; tracks like "Yeh Sai" and "Mannequin Move" almost come to a complete halt in the middle, breathing dramatically before reconfiguring themselves. "Yeh Sai" is especially innovative, as it starts with a minute-long introduction of circulating synth harmonics before fading to silence and launching into a second introductory minute of percussive chords; meanwhile, a beat slowly formulates and establishes the hook that sustains the rest of the piece.
The title track is gripping from its first moments. A simple bassline accented by light-handed percussion and the odd bit of resonant noise is joined by familiar twisted vocal shots, but Davison uses them to develop harmony and texture to beguiling effect. As piano fleshes out the chord structure, a four-to-the-floor kick gives the composition momentum. It's comforting, nostalgic, and novel all at once.
"No Shirt, No Shoes" takes a page from Shlohmo with a lonesome guitar hook bolstered by a kick and rimshot. But as the track progresses, the drone of an outside chord adds just a hint of dissonance, changing the way the underpinning elements land in the mix. This moment typifies the experience of the EP—it's a shift in context that's subtle, but comes with great impact.