Of late, Bristol-based label Black Acre has done an excellent job finding gems amongst the more esoteric ends of electronic music. Between the synth-heavy romanticism of Blue Daisy and Unknown Shapes' Bedtime Stories, the ambitious beat work of Loops Haunt's Zenith, and Meditations on Afrocentrism, the debut EP from footwork-influenced crate-digger Romare, the label played home to some of 2012's most personality-rich electronic releases. Here, the latter of those artists returns to the fold with a new release comprising four wonderfully intricate jazz- and blues-infused tunes that build upon the promise of his previous outing.
As with his debut, each of the tracks on Love Songs: Part One owes a very deliberate and open debt to the tone and mood of its sample material. Romare builds his music, sonically and thematically, out of building blocks sourced from mid-20th-century blues and the roots of African-American culture. He hardly hides his sources either; EP opener "Your Love (You Give Me Fever)" is built around a very blatant sample lifted from the same jazz standard that Romare references in the song title. This sort of openness is hardly surprising though; his last release was originally intended to come with the source of every sample listed on the back of the record sleeve—an idea that was torpedoed at the last minute by international copyright law. In effect, Romare seems intent on taking the listener on a guided tour through his influences, rather than simply repurposing sounds and then covering his tracks.
This release differs from Meditations, however, in that each of the tracks feels slightly stripped back, minimal, and more refined. After its initial build-up, "Your Love" effectively turns into an ultra-minimal footwork tune, a composition built around little more than a bass-heavy kick, quick-cut vocal, and a low-key synth pad. Similarly, on "Jimi and Faye (Part One)" Romare constructs a fairly simplistic beat out of a handful of samples and lets it run over an extended spoken-word vocal before slowly expanding the track out to a crescendo with reverb-drenched atmospherics and stretched-out drones.
It's difficult to pin down Romare's music to a single genre; while juke was an obvious reference point on his first release—due to both his hectic kick rhythms and the cut-and-paste manner in which he used his samples—"Your Love" is the only thing here that really comes close to footwork. Both "Jim and Faye" and "A Taste Of Honey (From The City)" are closer aligned to instrumental hip-hop and old-school house, while closing track "Hey Now (When I Give You All My Lovin')" slows things down enough to move into full-blown blues territory. It's impressive then, that Romare's cohesive use of samples—providing each track with a unified atmospheric tone—draws together what would otherwise feel like a bafflingly eclectic mix of ideas. Clearly, Romare is an artist with some serious skill.