Jay L, Looking Up Pt. 1


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Brstl is a pointedly local, purely physical record label that has been operating solidly for the last year or so, pleasingly lacking in fanfare; they previously released music by October & Borai, Outboxx and Rhythmic Theory. This fourth record, Looking Up Pt. 1 by Jay L, continues to champion its very worthy cause: to put out humble yet original dance music from Bristol with plenty of crackle, but none of the extraneous background noise and marketing chatter that so many new labels feel pressured to emit.

Jay L, “Looking Up Pt. 1” (Excerpt)

Jay L seems to have spent some time at the Kyle Hall academy of drums and sequencing; both tracks feel like they’re based on a loosely performed MPC jam. The tautly sprung hi-hats of “Looking Up Pt. 1” jitter in the foreground, creating a subtle but buoyant pattern of tension and release as the other elements enter. The track’s centerpiece is the uncomplicated yet spine-tingling charm when all the components elegantly come together for the first time. Thickly processed keys and winding, faintly acoustic-sounding sub bass form a melodic trio with the serene and melancholic female cooing that opens it all up. Throughout the rest of the track the limber arrangement of these simple elements is captivating, as they drop out, groove in again, and the whole thing twirls like a moonlit dancer on a long-deserted dance floor.

“Try Slung” adopts the same aesthetic. Earthy drums trace out a rambunctious path through the fog of muggy chords. The mix of disjointed clatters, hisses and bumps with these subdued notes creates an atmospheric, intriguingly subdued haze, with a debt to the more unglued Detroit producers, if lacking the inimitable drive that makes Theo Parrish’s rambling beat tracks so enthralling. Even disregarding the brilliance of the A-side, this would be a laudable record mainly for the rootsy charm in Jay L’s refusal of formulaic club production polish. In fact, it’s a gently glimmering jewel of a record.

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