With last year's "Mad Disrespect," New York producer Anthony Naples earned himself a prominent spot on numerous end-of-the-year lists—a feat made all the more notable by the fact that it was a debut release for both the artist and the Mister Saturday Night label. It's not hard to understand the ubiquitous praise for the track—its combination of dusty percussion, moonlit keys, and infectious vocal loops was irresistible. The release established Naples as one of the more promising newcomers in house music, yet the young Brooklynite smartly sidestepped what would have been a dauntingly anticipated follow-up by offering a handful of remixes, a self-released white-label, and a one-off track for Opal Tapes. Each production seemed like a further exploration of the producer's already distinct voice; all the tunes were similarly washed and faded in texture, with a stuttering groove at the forefront. Though these characteristics remain on "Moscato," Naples' return to Mister Saturday Night, it rarely sounds as though he's treading water. Rather, he's taking his musical formula and seeing just how far he can push it.
Recorded around the same time as "Mad Disrespect," it's no real surprise that the two tracks here—both of which are titled "Moscato"—aren't a radical departure from Naples' hit debut. The a-side's essential features—smooth Rhodes chords, raspy hi-hats, its chatty vocal cut—are the same classic New York-house staples that Naples previously channeled into fresh-sounding 1 a.m. workouts. On "Moscato," however, the effect isn't quite as instantaneous. Its awkward, sometimes jarring groove takes a little while to warm to, while the producer's penchant for raw, non-EQ'd mixdowns sounds more evident than ever on the flip. That being said, despite not being as accessible or charming as his debut, the songs here don't try to be either—and once listeners become accustomed to the record's off-beat stabs, the rewards are truly uplifting. After the second breakdown on Side A, those hissing hats spiral out of control into a bona fide peak-hour moment, while the churning, cassette-techno-driven groove of Side B points toward a more rugged edge to Naples' production. Now that he's reportedly crafting new music on hardware, it's possible that Naples' future output will explore that ruggedness further; on the other hand, perhaps he'll spin off in a different direction altogether. Whatever the eventual outcome, with "Moscato" kicking off Naples' 2013 campaign, it's hard not to feel optimistic about what he'll be unveiling in the year ahead.