Cottam, The Rub EP

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In 2009 the rule over the mysterious realms of white label business lay definitively in the hands of techno with thrilling chapters being issued from the likes of Horizontal Ground, Frozen Border, Traversable Wormhole and Wax. Towards the close of the year, though, a contender appeared in the form of a slow-mo house maverick who was stirring up plenty of dialogue with astoundingly fine vinyl-only discs. Bearing no information they were known only as belonging on the Cottam label, and the pitched down, sluggish grooves were mesmerizing, taking grand (and uncleared) liberties with Afro-funk, disco and R&B samples. Enter 2010 and the mask has been lifted from the man behind the three highly acclaimed Cottam releases, revealing one Paul Cottam, a Englishman from Prescot whose earlier love of DJing was transmuted to production after family duties relegated the turntables to the closet. With the interest beginning to pile up Cottam has dusted off the turntables to DJ at select gigs and has also had a couple of releases on different labels too. The latest of these is on Cologne imprint Story, a label that at first was also keeping its producers’ names a closely guarded secret.

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With the three Cottam label releases proffering only one track per side, The Rub EP is like Christmas time for fans as the track yield is doubled on this strictly limited vinyl run. Music-wise it’s more of the same impeccable mid-tempo house burners that borrow heavily from soul, R&B and Afro-funk. The title track sparks comparison to the hypnotic nature of an STL release, with the unique sculpturing of sounds and trance-inducing effect garnered from them. The dreamy rise and fall of synths is instantly familiar to my ears, as are the dubbed out effects employed but for the life of me I can’t place the source material (spotters to the fore please). “DH-13” makes moves in a hyper-slow disco manner, injecting licks of an R&B vocal to a piano-led groove that sounds very much like Mark E, one of the producers who Cottam name-checks as an influence for him starting to make music in the first place. “Whobadu” chops up dusty SP-12 hip hop beats, reassembling them with a hypnotic smattering of key stabs, spatial effects and an unrelenting filtered bass line. “Olufeme” tracks a deep Afro-funk bass against bright horns ringing out and builds vocal snatches that could be culled from an Oscar Sulley track of the same name. Working up a deadly groove of killer proportions is the mainstay of a Cottam track and it’s something he nails time and again on this EP, making it the highlight of his output so far. I suspect the call for this stay at home dad to start mapping out more and more of his kids’ nap time towards producing more of these raw, golden edits is growing increasingly louder.

harpomarx42  on May 13, 2010 at 12:27 AM

When I first heard “The Rub”, I thought it WAS an STL release. Lovely dubbed out syncopated grooves.

Adamm  on May 13, 2010 at 11:32 AM

I really enjoy this kinda stuff (basic tripped out grooves) but I just cannot get into this. The rub could be used effectively in a chill out set though.

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