BBH: Fresh & Low, Little ‘i’

[Foul & Sunk]


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My initial thought after listening to Fresh & Low’s Little ‘i’ EP was something along the lines of, “Appealing, but it doesn’t exactly break new ground.” The next day, my visit to Discogs resulted in a strange mix of embarrassment and vindication. I’d never heard of Fresh & Low before. It doesn’t feel nice to be oblivious of a project that’s been running for over a decade and spawned some two dozen records. I also learned that Little ‘i’ first saw daylight in ’97, the charmingly-titled Foul & Sunk having acquired the record for reissue this year. In some small way, my ignorance means this vinyl-only reissue is not in vain. Of course, people no longer sell wax for the money. The objective here is twofold: improve the record’s availability for fans (original copies are around €53 on Discogs) and make the rest of us aware that it even exists.

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I don’t feel too guilty. If Fresh & Low — once a trio, now a solo act — were actually that special, I’d probably have heard of them. Listening to Little ‘i’ reinforces this sentiment. The tracks have aged well, but there’s certainly no feeling that I’m being acquainted with lost classics. “New Life” starts off far more concerned with mood than with establishing any particular motif. That’s not a strange aim in itself, but the complex jazz noodling in the last minute makes one wonder why they held off so long. The rest of the track is set around woody percussion and sustained backing chords. Volleys of steely plucks -– almost dub techno in timbre -– shift the intensity up and down at will. “No Going Back” shares the same confident outlook, a big kick and jacking percussion underpinning an ardent vocal sample. This one also has a slightly catchier riff, at least before we reach the second half and the rapturous vocal becomes the focus. The similarities don’t end there, though: there are again jazzy wanderings towards the end.

The other two tracks — “Seven Miles Up” and “Dream” -– are more composed. The first plays out around super-high piano and microscopic chimes, which race up the scale at such speed as to form a single note. This elegance is offset by a single vacillating tone. I use the word “tone” because it’s so overtly electronic, as opposed to the record’s otherwise soft palette. Holding each pitch for two bars or so, this theremin-like sound shifts to its next destination abruptly; an interesting element but one people could easily label as tacky. In “Dream,” a brittle percussive skeleton first upholds bunches of globular synth notes, again jazz-influenced, as is the deep house tradition. It’s like “New Life” in reverse, quickly transitioning into a thumping kick and offering little melodically from then on. Apart from this last track, I’m glad to have been made aware of Little ‘i’. But then again, I’m not entirely bothered it didn’t happen sooner.

Ryan  on November 23, 2011 at 3:28 PM

I really dig the posted track. It bangs, but it also has some nice zone-out elements. It might not be the most unique house track around (even in 97′ it probably wasn’t fresh), but it’s one that does a good job rehashing those worn deep house vibes, and it has passed the test of time.

Good find.

Hennessy  on November 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Was a huge classic in a club in my part of the world (Ireland)on release, haven’t heard it in ages, great track!

m@earth  on November 26, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Interesting builder or set ender type of track. Not sure, but I may have heard it back when at g-phone and passed on it or something. Sort of like a DJ Dukish or Sound Factory wanna be type track. Good, but, eh.

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