Respected house music producer, and Red Ember Records founder, Ewan Jansen, released his Island Diary – digitally – just before Christmas. The vinyl has now arrived in Japanese shops, prompting me to jot down a few notes on the 7-track suite`s chops – where Ewan`s 20-odd years of 4 / 4 experience is allowed to expand across slightly more diverse musical terrain. There’s a looseness of touch that only comes with considerable practice, and beats flap, slap and strut about with pared back percussion anchoring everything – from ambient swells – warm, new age approximations of sea mammal song – to smooth, subterranean, nocturnal grooves. Filtered drums and cymbal crashes. Soaring fusion lines and tribal footwork fidget. Go wild rhythm tracks strike catwalk poses shoulder-to-shoulder pad with homages to 80s new wave and synth pop. Keys cutting shiny, angular shapes that suggest alien, exotic, foreign landscapes. The updated nostalgia stretching to accommodate Atari home computer pings, pongs, and bleeps. Acid occasionally snapping at its ankles. The mellower cut, Hot Rain, has its machines gently whiz, whir, meow, and purr. Watertable paints a Sakamoto-esque tone poem over an 808 break. Breadcrumbs for me though takes the biscuit – setting subtle sound design storms shimmying to the handclaps of disco`s revenge. Referencing a kind of tech bastardization of garage that once rocked discerning late `90s dance floors*. Deep, deep, aquatic, submerged. Devilish details caught drifting in and out of its irresistible currents. Definitely swimming not skimming.
Ewan Jansen`s Island Diary can be ordered directly from Butter Sessions.
*Older London-based listeners might be whisked back to a blur of Bloodsugar, too much gak, and a packed Hoxton Blue Note.