tremble clef

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lisa Shaw, "Grown Apart" (2005)

Five years is a looong time in dance music. More so when you were the sound of five years ago.

Beginning in 1999, the San Francisco-based label Naked Music, which had basically broken off from Om records, started releasing a series of 12"s that sounded like extensions of each other, while at the same time distinct from a lot of other dance music.They were deep house records, but each had a kind of slinky sleekness and late night sheen, often on top of, or in contrast to, a herky-jerky bump-n-grind rhythm, that was unique. It no doubt helped that almost all these records were made by the same team -- Jay Denes, Miguel Migs, Gabriel René, albeit under a bunch of different names (Lovetronic, Blue Six, Petalpusher, Aquanote, Florathrust [one of those names, I made up]) -- but there was just a kind of ethos that these records formed. One listen, and you just knew that it was Naked Music.

The danger of having such a recognizable sound, of course, is that at some point you might suddenly find yourself predictable, out-of-fashion. (Just ask Soul 2 Soul. If you can find 'em.) It doesn't aid your cause when that distinctive sound becomes adopted by a million wine bars and swanky restaurants looking to pipe some "inoffensive" dance music into its premises.

There is thus a lot working against Lisa Shaw, one of Naked Music's in-house vocalists, who lent her creamy voice most memorably to "Always". What's more, she's been beaten to the punch in terms of being the first Naked Music chanteuse to come out with a full-length: both Aya, who put out Strange Flower last year, as well as Gaelle, who released the sneakily great Transient, got there first.

But from the album Cherry, a track called "Grown Apart" -- a meta name, in light of the above? Probably not -- makes a good effort to save Lisa (and Naked Music) from irrelevance. The production on this is expectedly polished, but (or maybe that's why) I like how it also begins with solitary handclaps that sound oddly imperfect. When the rhythm finally kicks in -- initially for the first chorus, and then, more beatastically, for the second verse -- the effect is more lovely for that build-up. A little spiralling keyboard riff also enters around this time, and the pretty counter-melody that Lisa sings in the last 30 seconds likewise help to add more layers to the track. It's one, if you let me be a little Project Runaway for a minute, to swathe yourself in.


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