When a few artists get together for a project, it’s often hard to tell who’s been doing what. And if the names in question are relatively obscure, or make very similar music in their solo careers, things can get even murkier. As “Family Guy” joked about Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and the movie “Good Will Hunting”, how do we know one member didn’t just lie on the couch getting stoned, while the other(s) did all the work? It’s nice, therefore, when someone strikes out alone, and shows what they’re really capable of. In the case of Holland’s Gijs Poortman, you may already have a vague idea. As a member of two projects, R-A-G and Crystal Maze, he’s made some pretty solid Chicago house over the past three years or so, and done a solo remix as G String. The Burial Grounds EP sees him reprise the latter alias for his first solo record, and affirms that Poortman has been doing much more than just lazing on the couch.
There’s not much to the A1 cut, “Ghoul.” But strangely enough, that’s not a criticism. Though its bare-boned percussion and sluggish rolling synths prove somewhat insubstantial, they certainly match the EP’s supernatural concept. And if you listen long enough, you’ll find an ample amount of nuance lurking in the spooky folds. “Phase,” which appears only as a remix from D’Marc Cantu, achieves a similar atmosphere. Again there’s a gauzy quality here, but Cantu skilfully harnesses it to squeeze plenty of feeling from just a few sparse pads and snare hits. To these ears, however, it’s “Revenge” which holds the EP’s real thrills. I thought Aroy Dee had monopolized the the world’s supply of elegant, melancholic, Chicago house-type melodies, but Poortman is no slouch either. Over cantering hand drums, his organ-like pads form beautiful, expansive horizons. He almost seems to be describing some kind of tribal, horse-bound journey. Until a serrated synth (heavily filtered 303) joins the fray, that is, adding a distinct machine harshness to the proceedings. Though all three tracks have their moments, it’s this lucid and affecting arrangement which best hints at G String’s strong future.