“When I Hear That Music,” the lead track on Ron Basejam’s new Tales From the Night EP, has a feel reminiscent of something that a generation of NYC clubbers might have danced to, circa 1982, at clubs like Paradise Garage. Its loping, skeletal rhythm, ghostly dub effects and swirls, and overall moody vibe are not so far off of the sound of songs like, say, “Walking on Sunshine” by Rockers Revenge or “Don’t Make Me Wait” from Larry Levan’s Peech Boys—which, of course, is a very good thing. Also good: The cut’s hypnotic, subtly relentless feel is reminiscent of what masters of nostalgic, funk-fueled repetition along the lines of Tiger & Woods and the Revenge strive to achieve in their best moments. But “When I Hear the Music” is far from a slavish copy of any of the above. Basejam—known to his pals as Jim Baron, and a member of U.K. boogie-house unit Crazy P (with Danielle Moore and Chris “Hot Toddy” Todd— is far too talented to borrow a few tricks and call it a day. The flourishes he tosses into the mix—a rhythmically propulsive synth, jazzy little piano riffs, horns, a minimal bit of bluesy six-string, some naggingly familiar vocal samples and more—make the song his own, and the end result is a gem of a tune.
And it’s not the only one to be had on the EP, released on the invaluable House of Disco website’s label. “Kag” is something of a slow-jam epic, with swirling keys giving way to wah-wah effects, sweet R&B vocal samples and a majestic downtempo groove, complete with a bit of slap-bass funkiness to complete the dream-soul feel. “We Know How to Work It” offers a more housed-up feel, though with its simple but effective chords, robo-disco throb and some filtered sass from Moore in the mix, its as close in feel to Janet Jackson circa 1990 as it is to anything else—and with its massive Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis–style kick drum, syncopated guitar work and breathy vocals, “The Fire” also conjures up distant memories of those long-ago days. Finally, there’s a reprised version of “When I Hear That Music,” one that strips the song down to its component parts to devastating effect. Sure, Tales From the Night might be a bit backward-looking for some—but a touch of sentimentality for times gone by isn’t all that bad a thing now and then, is it?