Moon B, Untitled

[People’s Potential Unlimited]

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This LP from Atlanta-based analog synth hound Wes Gray was released right as 2012 year-end chart cramming sessions were wrapping up, unfortunately causing it to be overlooked by many. What people missed was one of the most soulful and funky albums of the year. It had originally been issued on tape by Gray himself, and it luckily found a home on what is reportedly PPU’s new vinyl sublabel that features more contemporary artists. Although it’s new, this album shares a common aesthetic to the label’s main role in uncovering hidden funk, boogie, disco gems from the 80s. Listening to Untitled for the first time is like hearing Dâm-Funk or Larry Heard’s early work all over again.

On many of the 11 untitled tracks on this album, Gray uses boogie and slower house rhythm templates, which allow his synth and bass line melodies to drive the songs. A lo-fi tape hiss pervades, providing these tracks with a warmth and otherworldly glow. The album opener uses start/stop drum programming and elastic bass and synth for a twisted take on boogie. On “A2,” Gray brings out the moodiness of his work, as spectral pads lend melancholy to the jutting bass and haunting synth lead, changing up its house rhythm with ponderous breaks and whip-snapping snares. When he goes beatless, as on “A4,” the synth work is syrupy with soulful chords augmented by soloing bass turns and what sounds like rippling stones being thrown down a well. Side A ends with a brilliant upbeat house track that progresses through movements of ebullience and forlorn searching, all the while giving a nod to jacking raw bass and drum segments.

The B-side features intriguing moments as well, including “B1″‘s raw drum breaks and panning whistle melody, as well as the synth soloing over the boogie bass lines of “B5.” When Gray returns to the house outline, as on “B2,” he hits on something special with eerie synth gleams and contorting bass lines, the reverbed hi-hats and sharp snare providing a driving energy. Overall, Untitled‘s tracks feel as if they originated from jam sessions on dusty analog machines, which makes the album’s quality and cohesiveness all the more impressive. Gray originally called his creation “a tape that I would want to buy and listen to on a cheap cassette player while laying in bed on a rainy night.” Now it’s an LP that you can listen to on your pricey turntable and hi-fi set up and still understand what he meant.

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