The production/blogger duo known as Bicep continues to be one of the most dependable outfits of 2012, following up its essential "$tripper" 12" with a surprisingly dark—but no less worthwhile—EP of house-minded rollers, and enlisting Ejeca and Omar Odyssey (a.k.a. Serge Santiago) to collaborate on the effort. Finding an appropriate home on London's equally dependable Aus imprint—which, it should be said, appears well on the way to having its best year yet—You/Don't strikes a balance between being intelligent, subtle, and utterly ideal for the dancefloor.
The two original cuts offered here, "You" and "Don't Do It," may be Bicep's iciest tunes to date. Both songs sink into stripped-back, shuffling rhythms early on, with the former operating just above 130 bpm and the latter more towards the slower side of the 120's. "You," which sees the Irish producer Ejeca sharing credit alongside the duo, offers little more than an ethereal, string-like pad and chopped vocal phrases as the musical accompaniment to the song's deep, bulging bassline. Given that, "You" is the kind of tune that never fully engages, instead continually weaving together interlocking cycles of hats, shakers, and percussion to yield ever more inviting patterns that encircle the steady kick and far-off clap. "Don't Do It" follows by dropping the tempo down a bit, yet actually accounts for the more upbeat of the two original tunes. With the help of Omar Odyssey, Bicep works a laid-back groove into an understated burner, lacing the garage-esque beat with dense, chorded stabs, droning strings, and rising metallic pads that bring a sense of tension to the proceedings before giving way to the rolling, bottom-heavy procession.
The EP is capped off by a remix from Panorama Bar resident Steffi, who injects the sparse "You" with a host of glowing synths, rich pads, and a much larger dose of skitter, landing the rework somewhere along the lines of deep, retro-futuristic house. Highlighted by a charming collection of drum-machine sounds—which seem to have come from some long-lost and forgotten 808/Casio hybrid unit—the remix is considerably more bubbly than its counterparts, but still manages to not seem entirely out of place (after all, we are talking about a Bicep record here).
Ultimately, the You/Don't EP represents another impressive notch in Bicep's increasingly buzzworthy career, which to this point has yielded a discography that successfully reaches into a number of house music's many corners. From the dark and disco-minded, to the funky and gritty, and now, to the reserved and patient side of the spectrum, Bicep seems set on finding a way into the crates of forward-thinking house DJs of almost every stripe.
You can stream the entire You/Don't EP here.