Linkwood, System

Illustration by Torgeir Husevaag

[Prime Numbers]

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Prime Numbers has surfaced from the wading pool of deep house labels at a remarkable rate. Considering the apparent nonchalance of Prime No. 1 David Wolstencroft (best known as Trus’me), the consistency and quality of PN’s catalog is almost surprising. Developing an identifiable sound around a close-knit and capable collection of producers in just a few years requires equal amounts of luck, astute determination, and obviously, trust. Both eerie and warm, indivisible and expansive, reflective and current, the Prime Numbers sound boogies down like tears in rain. Prime producers like Reggie Dokes (owner of Detroit’s Psychostasia Recordings), Linkwood (Nick Moore), and Fudge Fingas (Gavin Sutherland) share Wolstencroft’s ethos to the point of near interchangeability (as evinced by the mixed disc of last years PN comp), while maintaining fresh takes on the sound. But with only bits and pieces thus far (albeit bright and poignant ones), and with Trus’me’s second album In the Red yet to break the bank, it’s still to be seen how this collective drive should play out in greater detail. With System, Moore has slow-brewed just such a model, while further rendering his thematic preoccupations and once again proving his consummate production style.

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Making his introductions with the 2004 release “Miles Away,” in collaboration with Sutherland and Firecracker fire marshal Lindsay Todd, Moore began his exploration of the soulful sounds and sides of isolation, a theme taken further with “Lost Experiment” and “R.I.P.” His flipside contribution “Fate” offered a bouncier consecration of faith and community, themes that resurfaced in “What’s Up with the Underground?” and “Barely Eagle” (another solid collaboration with Todd). System is a more comprehensive examination and formal adaptation of these not so contradictory themes, which draws willfully and skillfully from Moore’s influences. It makes a solid initiation and representation of the LP format on Prime Numbers.

Organized into stylistic and thematic pairs, System starts with the appropriate organic/synthetic tension of “Carbon Units” and “Robot Parade.” In clear homage to the sci-fi fascinations of both Kraftwerk and 313 techno, these tracks facetiously brood and menace with industrial compulsion. More about contextualization than movement, they only hint at what’s to come later. “Tears” and “Falling” introduce Moore’s heartbroken boogieman production persona. Featuring another convincing vocal performance from “Spaghetti Circus” ringmaster Reggie Watts (who even has the courtesy to lower his register while delighting with some fast-mo French flow), “Tears” sports a neck bender of a bass line over which Watts bawls, “I’ve got so much in the way of tears.” If the impulse to boogie wasn’t so clearly the order of the day, we might have time to feel more for him. On top of that, it’s not all tears falling from cloudy skies, as the end of the song makes clear: “Everybody/ Sunshine!” “Falling” seems as bleak and incongruous as a second-class ticket on the Trans-Dystopia Express, until it chugs up to the halfway point, and we realize we’re not taking the boogie train to oblivion, but rather “falling in love.”

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Stepping off somewhere between loveless and lost, Moore does what any of us would: head straight for the refrigerator. The bitter, but hearty “Pumpernickel” is a call to “pledge allegiance to the groove,” finding peace of mind in music, but its “Fudge Boogie” that puts the proof in the pudding. With Sutherland’s fingers sticky on the keys, its saucy vocals offer a uniquely pragmatic bit of inspirational prose: “Yes, I need you baby, and I get what I want / If I don’t get it, it’s because I don’t want it.” Marching on a now satiated stomach, the LP heads from its origins somewhere in or around the Detroit metro area to “Chicago,” where things are moving at a faster pace. Here, the robotic menace is less obvious, but there’s certainly something charging up from under the surface of that big, inner-city synth solo (in all likelihood, a replicant recording from the vaults of the Tyrell Corporation’s Midwestern branch office). This one should blow its fair share of minds in coming months, that is, if its big brother “Electricity” leaves any on the dance floor. Sparing no expense in hiring the Peech Boy Community Clap Choir, Moore has here birthed a thoroughbred banger, which Wolstencroft admits gave him shivers upon first hearing. Cresting the peak at just the right moment, we move down into dubbier valleys and dewier pastures. Reminiscent of “Lost Experiment” and Intrusion’s “Miles Away” dubs, “Clearing the System” and “Nectarine” offer an appropriately meditative coda, peaking in their own right by other means altogether. If Moore has taken his time working with the material for System (many of these tracks first surfaced over a year ago), Prime Numbers can hardly fault him when the results are this precise.

harpomarx42  on October 15, 2009 at 11:24 AM

I love the covers. Like an old jazz album. (Speaking of Miles Away…)

harpomarx42  on October 15, 2009 at 12:30 PM

I also think that “Chicago” sounds sort of like an old Arthur Russell cut.

DiscoMikael  on October 15, 2009 at 12:59 PM

Outstanding album. Electricity is a classic! So old school yet so new. Excellent!

Amiral  on October 15, 2009 at 1:47 PM

This LP is a bomb!
Nice review btw!

Andrey R  on October 22, 2009 at 12:51 PM

At a loft party last weekend “Electricity” got them people jumping. It works!

athousandclaps  on October 22, 2009 at 10:23 PM

Interesting. I definitely didn’t make that connection. Care to elaborate?
Thanks! Glad you liked it.
Man, I can’t wait to hear it in action…

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