You might know Mark E already from the re-edit heyday of the mid-2000s, when he remixed and completely reworked names as big as Diana Ross and Janet Jackson (not to mention the occasional obscure German prog rock band or forgotten pop-R&B outfit) into deep house and nu-disco shapes. After having ploughed those fields for half a decade, Stone Breaker is the foundation of E building something new and completely different: an intense, head-down, relentless edifice of original, modern house music.
Keeping the gloss but not the glamor of his single edits, Stone Breaker plugs into a mid-tempo, chugging shuffle that begins with opener "Archway" and rarely strays away. "Belvide Beat" is an early peak, starting as a dirty bass groove that could have soundtracked a gritty '70s cop flick, then suddenly transforming into a monstrous acid stomp. Even if the component sounds are all familiar, they multiply into a vivid whole that pulsates with urgency.
Stick around past a few duds in the middle ("Quatro" verges on throwaway smooth jazz in an attempt to lighten things up), and "Black Moon" is your reward. Here, the nonstop shuffle tempo locks into a hypnotic, head-nodding groove; gorgeous sustained keys hover in the background, and simply echoed keyboard melodies achieve a glorious minimalism against the variegated layers of sound. While "Got To Get Me There" wears out its welcome over 10 slow minutes—except for its excellent vocodered robot vocal—the eight minutes of "Black Moon" feel like an all-too-brief glimpse into a musical otherworld. Very promising.