Braille, A Meaning

[Hotflush Recordings]

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With two intriguing Sepalcure EPs and a whole lot of greatness from partner Travis Stewart (Machinedrum), the other half of Sepalcure has a lot to live up to. Praveen Sharma’s debut as Braille for Rush Hour (The Year 3000) was interesting enough, showing a house-oriented strut that survives through to Sharma’s debut EP for Hotflush Recordings, a typically Sepalcurean mishmash of house and garage influences both U.S. and UK.

“A Meaning” begins with a speech snippet that determinedly declares “house music.” Like some other like-minded producers in the bass music spectrum, Braille is taking a self-conscious stab at house music that sometimes feels more like pastiche than anything else. Sampling legendary house vocalist Robert Owens on “Riverbed” seems especially unwise, especially when considering how the vocal clashes with the nearly atonal synths and a messy rhythm that seems to further unglue itself with each passing bar. Sharma’s rhythms are more often than not pleasantly slinky, cobbled together from the same tactile grab-bag of samples in so much U.S. bass music (such as the serviceable if uninteresting “A Meaning”), but the sometimes lifeless way he arranges them leaves something to be desired.

That’s not to say that Braille’s reckless colliding of retro styles never works; “Breakup” is a track that points to a promising future, mixing Sepalcure-style vocal phrases with jazzy keys, searing synths, and a snapping garage pattern. It’s got the tension down, some physical force, and none of the lackadaisical inertia that plagues so many attempts at deep house by similar-minded producers (including other tracks on this EP). Unfortunately, we’re back to to a mess of clashing keys with the near-psychedelic chiming “Chain Gang,” offering all the elements of a prime Sepalcure production but none of the finesse or expertise. It’s far too early to give up hope on Sharma, but so far it seems his best work comes when he’s got a partner to spice things up.

Per Bojsen-Moller  on September 30, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I was pretty hesitant at first given the weight of the samples used here but in the end the sheer energy of the tracks got me. Been playing all of these out and they’re pretty explosive

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