Chicago Skyway, Londonium EP

[Uzuri]


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Sean Hernandez is apart from a lot of the producers of Chicago house in that unlike many who favor the genre, he is actually a native of the city. To date his output has included a couple of ethereal sounding EP’s on M>O>S as well as harder-nosed fare on Eargasmic and Uzuri. The Londonium EP marks Hernandez’s second outing for Uzuri and only one of two EPs he released in 2011, though he also left his mark via some outstanding remixes.

“London Streets,” the lead track off the EP is a roughed up, tracky excursion that recalls the best of early DJ Sneak and Felix Da Housecat. Highly strung organs blast out pulses of detuned chords that hang in the air like a heavy mist, joined by on-beat snares and tight, thumping kicks. As the tension mounts, complimentary chords in a higher key call back a maniacal response, adding an unhinged element to the drama of the lead melody. Fellow Chicagoan Hakim Murphy takes a bass-lead approach on his remix of “London Streets,” keeping things in very much the same track-based style, but opting for a cleaner, more clipped sound to the percussion and using the opposing chord melodies more sparingly, bringing them in and out of the mix to complement the bass line.

The nasally, worming acid in “Traffic” manages to just keep itself under control for the duration of the track, the wriggling bass beaten back by wave upon wave of rimshots and sloppy, brash hi-hats. Where the other tracks still felt constrained in some way, “Noise” is completely unchecked, from the eroded kicks to the crumbling, digital wipes of broken circuitry and the overdriven percussion. The deliberately sloppy, lacerated grooves have an almost primal edge to them, making the other tracks sound prim in comparison. Though both mixes of “London Streets” are more obvious picks, it’s “Noise” that sticks with you on Londonium, a hard gem that shines through its rough-hewn surface.

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