Ben Sims, Slow Motion

[Theory Recordings]

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Ben Sims has been a champion of driving, funk-inflected techno for much of his career. Known for frenetic and air-tight three-deck sets, Sims’ own productions (and attendant labels) have been intrinsically connected to his DJing: functional tools designed for layering, and widely sampling from an extensive funk and disco collection. His production style became slightly more ambitious last year, however, with the release of the Smoke & Mirrors LP on Drumcode; and while the album was still raw, it displayed a polish lacking from his earlier, trackier output. The richly satisfying Slow Motion EP (or mini-LP, given that it contains six tracks) is a welcome return for Sims’ much-loved Theory imprint, which was on hiatus for a year. It marks the labels fortieth release, continuing in much the same vein as ever — bruising, no-nonsense techno funk. Collectors should note, however, that it will be released in three parts (both vinyl and digital) bearing separate catalog numbers.

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Opener “New Blood” sees Sims make extensive use of filter sweeps, alongside an echo-led vocal edit for a peak-time workout. A two-chord synth stab repeats throughout, subtly ducking around the concussive — and mildly distorted — 4/4 boom. A solid and workable tool, this will no doubt curry favor on harder floors.The Robert Hood remix of “New Blood” is a timely reminder of his ever-present Midas touch. With Hood it’s about maximizing limited means, and on this track he offers a sleek reduction of the A-side’s punishing excesses. An assured remix, the crisp collection of ticking hats, rounded kicks and jagged chords will fit into all manner of techno sets. Rolando, meanwhile, offers a slightly more restrained take, working hollow tribal percussion into the mix. The build is impressive, and a welcome relief after the unrelenting cuts that preceded it, with an emphasis on the volleying chord pattern.

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Sims steps up for another original in the form of “Slow Motion,” a track that may be familiar from its inclusion on Marcel Fengler’s excellent Berghain mix last year. High-tempo and trippy, “Slow Motion” offers repeated rising filters alongside bongo edits and an incessant three-chord vamp. Skudge’s remix sticks tight to the original, adding in tonal edits, a more prominent sub pattern, but not much else. The collection offers one more Sims original with the bruising “Straight From Bolivia,” a track that recalls the raw edginess of vintage Axis, where highly EQ’d strings bear down upon a doubled-up kick while tight ride cymbals hiss menacingly on either side. Overall, this collection displays a level of virtuosity that one would expect from such a stellar cast. And while there is really nothing on display that could not have come from the past half decade or so, that’s not quite the point. Sims is a producer who has continually placed the utmost importance on functionality — and no doubt this EP will be worked hard in the coming year by those enjoying its bounty of rock-solid grooves.


Ben Sims 40 Min Mix - BOILER ROOM  on March 9, 2012 at 9:58 AM

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