Illustration by Catalin Petrisor
[MCDE / Rush Hour Recordings]
After a brief spell spent on the sidelines last year, Danilo Plessow is back and fighting fit in 2013. Motor City Drum Ensemble, as he’s known to his peers, has forged a career as one of the less Germanic-sounding producers to derive from the motherland. Taking his cues instead from Detroit and Chicago’s sample-clad, deep house traditions, Plessow’s distinct sound is imbued with much of the warm, community funk that so readily defines the two North American megalopolises. It’s a sound that is on full high-definition display for MCDE’s latest offering, a weighty four-track EP released by both Plessow’s own MCDE imprint and Rush Hour.
“Send A Prayer Pt.1″ is as overt an example of MCDE by numbers as you’re likely to come across without feeling trite, rushed, or lazily predictable, but simply bears the incontestable watermarks of his production style. A sharp, soaring female vox leads us to the classic, rugged stomp that pervades his output, with lumbering snares and a set of mellow, fuzzy synths keeping the track ambling tipsily along. Add in a sprinkling of jazz sax and you’re left with a record so immediately ear-catching, there’s no need to break the mold. “Send A Prayer Pt.2″ is again peppered with trademark signatures, and yet by tightening up the drums and throwing in a hefty pinch of bass-line swing, we at least get the impression MCDE is trying to mix it up. This time it samples heavily from the crowd noise and bombastic vocals of Gospel performances, attempting to transport the listener to a small black church somewhere in the American Midwest on its supple grooves. “SP11″ retains much of this warmth, slipping the sturdy framework from “Prayer Pt.2″ underneath a palette of deeper, more languid sound. “The Stranger,” however, steers clear of this affable feeling, showcasing instead the grittier side to MCDE’s writing game. A stark, sober siren plays out over rolling, bass-heavy palpitations, proving he can do tracks aimed at the dawn-tickling, heads-down crowd with equal dexterity. Plessow’s first record in some time reminds listeners why he’s able to hang with the big dogs, even if it doesn’t highlight much of an evolution in his sound.