The hallmark of some producers is not a certain style but rather the quality of the sounds themselves. Enabled by the trend-driven culture of dance music, they can indulge in the latest crazes and step outside for their own ideas, both being equally well engineered. Franklin De Costa’s discography, which dates back to 1998, is littered with moments when he’s embraced the zeitgeist and done it well. Even if the minimal techno and house of his mid-aughts material wouldn’t get as many cheers now, its percussion is more detailed, the textures are more vivid, and it offers more risky melodies than peers tried. As De Costa has embraced the slower tempos — with the Fragile EP for Curle Recordings being something of a turning point — his efforts stand out a bit more even as they assiduously borrow from the current milieu. His latest single was originally released as part of I’m Starting To Feel Okay Vol. 5 on Endless Flight and was bundled by parent label Mule Musiq as the She Is The One EP.
Unabashedly slower than most of De Costa’s catalog, each of the three cuts makes good use of the space below 119bpm. A dense fog of pads surrounding the title track holds unexpected little details, rising from which is an indefatigable and utterly straightforward piano riff. This gentle yet insistent pulse in the melancholic atmosphere strikes an Innervisions chord in my mind, although the looser, more aggressive playing near the end threatens the vibe. “Laxxed” is even less restrained, almost to the point of being limp. Its main motif waxes and wanes across a bevy of slippery fingered chords, filtered all the while without reaching a compelling destination. The EP closes on the much stronger “Life Sentence.” The influences of filter house are distinct in the oblong bass synth that takes center stage, albeit played at Workshop tempos. Getting caught in its jellied grooves is an intriguingly funky proposition, although I can’t help but wrinkle my nose at the off-key piano souring the tune’s last third. Given the promising moments on She Is The One I’m inclined to believe Franklin De Costa is capable of still better tracks in this style. Whether he’s inclined to stick around long enough to try is the real question.