Osborne, Ruling EP


[Spectral Sound]

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Last week I lamented the relative sonic thriftiness of contemporary producers of deep house while discussing Juno’s Urban Soul remixes. Imagine my delight, then, when the Osborne’s meaty “Ruling EP” landed in my inbox with a resounding thump. Todd Osborn has shaded his productions (especially “Afrika”) with deep house’s vibrant blush since Spectral Sound’s salad days, in-between battering the dancefloor as Soundmurderer and getting wonky with Tadd Mullinix as TNT. Between 2004 and 2007, Todd’s Osborne alias went silent. Last year’s “Outta Sight” suggested a return to form, but few could have expected the luscious tonality and classic-referencing structures found on the rhapsodic “Ruling EP.”

Listen to “Ruling”:

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As if emerging from an apprenticeship with deep house’s Chicago cognoscenti, Osborn lays it on thicker and more “authentically” than he ever has before across these four tracks. It’s hard not to swoon at the passionate electric piano sighs, meaty bass tone and stirring vocal performances of “Ruling,” not to mention the fluttering interplay between keys, electric piano stabs and quintessential drum patter. The intensity carries through in the spacious and piano-driven “Downtown.” Filled to the brim with coolheaded tones, the tune glides across a minor piano hook on the back of an unctuous, oscillating bass groove, pushing the real world away for a moment of serene escape. The EP changes gears to a near-ballad tempo on”16th Stage,” which finds someone (Todd?) intoning a toast to “the sun” as chiming keys, subtle synth squiggles and billowing strings pay their respects. “Fresh” brings listeners back to the floor with a hulking kick drum and the introduction of phased dub chords, but the odd contrast with later synthesized flute fauna and digital “aahh” vocals leaves me somewhat cold, especially after the first two tracks.

The “Ruling EP” is something of a sampler platter for Osborne’s self-titled, full-length debut which lands May 5th, also on Spectral Sound. It hints at a wider range of sonic approaches than one might have expected of Todd Osborn, even though some of them (“Ruling” and “Downtown,” both of which are going straight into my crate) work better than others. But hey, I can’t complain too loudly: this squeaking wheel got its full-figured fill.


Little White Earbuds » Little White Earbuds March Charts  on April 29, 2008 at 2:23 PM

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