Photo by Christopher Jonassen
Gentleness is not a quality which receives much respect within dance music circles. After all, it’s a musical environment that tends to elevate those who “bang” with the best of them, those who slather on the bass, and those who leave their tunes “raw as fuck.” Aiming for the opposite is often treated as a sign of a producer’s weakness — or even worse, as an attempt to woo the masses. So it’s somewhat audacious that South African producer Jullian Gomes decided to make his solo debut with a track so pillowy soft it’s not far removed from a lullaby. Originally released on the 2010 Red Bull Music Academy compilation and since signed to Marketing Music, the Tim Paris-administrated Silver Network sub-label, it’s actually rather obvious why Gomes was so confident in “Love Song 28.”
Traces of Gomes’ other gig as half of G.Family remain in its plush, harmonizing pads and the sharper chord stabs that fasten the billowing pitches to the snappy percussion. The graceful falsetto of featured vocalist Bobby, nestled in the flowing tones, brings to mind a more personal take on the glossy house of someone like Kaskade. Its pointed bass line, which lingers just behind Bobby’s sustained and convincing delivery of the yearning lyrics, thumbs listeners’ heart strings as the vocals pull them within reach. So “Love Song 28″ lives up to its name as a bona fide song, albeit one that could fill a dance floor that’s ready to get tender.
Peak-time DJs are catered to as well with two versions by Ewan Pearson and one by Anonym. Pearson constructs a bass-led beat that squelches with every step, dappling its surface with frenetic bleeps and bright bells. It’s fine enough on its own, but the hushed vocals seem out of place in this more aggressive context. Anonym’s dub chooses a few of the original’s pitches and locks them into a repetitive groove, which while suitably utilitarian feels as if it’s just spinning its wheels. In the end gentleness wins the day, proof that producers don’t have to go hard to grab listeners’ attention and keep it.