JTC, Valley Road (We Are 1)

alison scarpulla 8[10]
Artwork by Alison Scarpulla

[Spectral Sound]


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If there’s any contemporary producer I would trust to do a worthwhile job with the recently resurgent breakbeat in house and techno, it’s Tadd Mullinix. He’s flexed his production muscles making everything from acid house to blunted-out hip-hop, EBM and jungle, donning numerous aliases — James T. Cotton, Dabrye, Charles Manier, and SK1, for starters — and occasionally collaborators — D’Marc Cantu, Todd Osborn, and Traxx — to fit the bill. He’s also been ahead of the game for years now, plowing rough and ready house territory as JTC since the mid-00s, his sound only growing more complex and compelling since. The Ann Arbor producer closed out 2013 on Spectral Sound with Valley Road (We Are 1), a record which indeed incorporates breakbeats as part of one of his catchiest JTC tracks to date.

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The swaggering confidence of the title track’s percussion helps Mullinix pull off a pitch-perfect replication of mid-90s drum patterns, the hustle and bustle of closed hats and swift snare fills engaging dancers from the start. First building blurry wall of slightly dubby chords before a clearer, more cheerful refrain with rousing vocals breaks in, he adds a sweet payoff and returns to the already swell groove. This back and forth is found in the percussion as well, which makes sudden shifts to distinctly different drums, much like a DJ would to tease the next track. Like the tactics themselves, these sounds would come off hokey if not so properly done, offering a level of detail few producers would bother to include. DJ Qu’s remix tunnels into the core of “Valley Road,” bringing with only the vocals as he takes listeners on a tour of primordial grooves lit by flickering tones. One for the latest of hours. A stark contrast to its companions, “Alpha Helix” closes out the record on an unexpectedly weak note. The chromatic leads eked out feel anemic, lending little to a largely standard Chicago house beat or the vocals that point out “your body” without inspiring listeners to do anything with their bodies. But it’s merely a smudge on one of 2013’s best records, one I wish we would have covered then.

Trackbacks

Little White Earbuds January Charts 2014 – Little White Earbuds  on February 7, 2014 at 2:23 AM

[…] JTC, “Valley Road (We Are One)” [Spectral Sound] (buy) 07. Hakim Murphy, “Vatitio” (Murdoc Remix) [Mindshift Records] […]

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