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Will Saul - Simple Sounds

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Artist: Will Saul

Album: Simple Sounds

Label: Simple

Review date: Mar. 27, 2008


Will Saul and Lee Jones - "Hug the Scary (Partial Arts Remake)" (Simple Sounds)


English DJ, producer and label idée Will Saul has a refreshingly understated touch. His audio signature is less a flourish, more an elegant scribble in the margins, and often his own compositions feel like discreet takes on genres. Though he doesn’t necessarily essay revelations, I’ve always had time for Saul, as there’s something appealing about a dance producer who can tread the lighter path while creating something distinct and personal.

Saul’s new productions for Simple Sounds edge close to cosmic disco, but this isn’t exactly Lindstrøm territory. On “3000 AD,” synths hiss like escaping gas while spirals of reverb twist upward, whereas “Cubrika’s” rhythms are all piston pulses and pneumatics. “Out There,” one of Saul’s collaborations with Tam Cooper, is full of light strobes and phase patterns that quietly reach crescendo while faux-strings carouse and sweep around the room. Remixes by Partial Arts (Ewan Pearson and Al Usher) and Gui Boratto sit comfortably alongside originals, which articulates Saul’s aesthetic sympathy with the Kompakt label.

Indeed, like the German mother ship, both Saul’s own music and the productions found on his imprints Simple and Aus rarely trade in austerity. At the very least, they work hints of melodicism into straightforward rhythm banks that, on closer inspection, admit a wealth of detail. For example, “3000 AD’s” gentle mesh of shakers, clicks and stammers doesn’t call attention to itself; likewise, the understated Latino swing of Gui Boratto’s own productions finds an echo in his sweetly vertiginous mix of Saul and Cooper’s “Sequential Circus.”

The second disc consists of Simple and Aus cuts mixed unassumingly by Saul. It focuses more on other artists patronised by the labels, opening with a particularly winning double up from Lee Jones and his outfit My My, who people might remember from their Playhouse album of 2006. If that record flitted around like no-one’s business, then these tracks have Jones and My My straining to keep their attention spans in check, hewing closer to tweaked, arpeggio disco. Something in the production quality of Jones’s “There Comes A Time” also has me flashing back to both second tier Detroit techno, and the benign deep house of Global Communication.

Later on the second disc, two remixes of Sideshow by John Tejada and Mathew Jonson broker mutually beneficial concord between remixer and remixee, with the former bringing their lexicon to bear on the original. In Tejada’s case, he reconstructs “Scary Biscuits” in his own image, spinning understated phrases from the hollowed-glass bell tones on his originals; with Jonson, the focus is more on incremental development, as sub rosa patterns shift and slide across solid foundations, rather like his “Magic Through Music” or “Typerope.” These examples of rapprochement demonstrate Simple Sounds at their best, and though sometimes Saul’s aesthetic errs on the side of the too demure, everything here’s quietly stylish. And at its very best, such as “3000 AD” and “Cubikra,” these simple sounds turn simply astral.

By Jon Dale

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