Kim Ann Foxman, Return It / Hypnotic Dance EP

[Needwant Recordings]

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There’s a gap in the market. House music’s current 90s revivalist fixation, championed by Bicep and the crew behind the Parisian record label My Love Is Underground, may have the scene all frothing at the mouth and weak at the knees, but there’s a crucial element missing from their repertoire. Amidst all the revamped Kerri Chandler kicks, spliced MK vocals and FM stabs, there’s a visible lack of classic house vocals, the sort so effortlessly on display on such timeless records as “Some Lovin'” by Liberty City or “Love Changes” by MK. There’s no denying that these 90s fetishists have of late been producing some popular tracks, but they and their steadfast following could benefit from the production of some outstanding songs. This is where Kim Ann Foxman could potentially enter the equation. The former singer for the celebrated Hercules & Love Affair, recently made her proper solo debut with Return It/Hypnotic Dance EP on trendy London label Needwant Recordings. The release certainly looks the part, with its swinging 90s drums, assertive vocal performances and that distinct, heavily synth-led retro feel, but can Foxman really be the one to fill the void?

The answer, as ever, is both yes and no. The four track EP arrives complete with remixes from Steffi and Franco-American duo Populette. The title track is a groovy, upbeat affair, with Foxman’s musings on unrequited love working well in conjunction with the layers of swirling, undulating synths and deep, pulsating stabs. Rather than opting for the full-on diva performance, Foxman tempers her vocals, careful not over-clutter the record’s already busy and well produced foundations. “Hypnotic Dance” begins on a more sinister tip, with gnarly tech-funk stabs laced underneath repeated, mesmeric orders to “close your eyes” fomenting some serious dance floor energy. The simultaneous introduction of thick claps and Kim Ann’s sultry lyrics ups the ante several notches, only for some of the record’s raw, brooding arrogance to find itself diffused by the paired arrival of a slightly forced chorus and noticeably MK-inspired saxophone line. The latter two aren’t disastrous additions, they just don’t quite keep to the intensity of the script.

Both “Return It” remixes are worthy of a listen, with Steffi twisting and tweaking the elements to suit her typically deeper, more rolling sensibilities, while Populette turn out a tough, but perfectly composed, DJ-friendly rehash. Significantly, both choose to keep Foxman’s vocals practically intact, suggesting a shared acknowledgement of their strength and versatility. This EP may not have carved Foxman out as a modern day Alana Simon, but it’s unlikely that was her aim. As a talented producer in her own right she occupies a rare position in the scene, and this fresh, head-turning EP has marked out the possibility for further explorations into some slightly more structurally song-based house music.

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