Brooklyn based producer Jim-E Stack first appeared a few years ago with a remix of Nguzunguzu’s ‘Mirage’ and has kept on a steady stream of intelligent and imaginative reworkings since, taking a hand to Caribou, A$AP Rocky and Sky Ferreira to name but a few. Many are great, and that several tend to tread a largely generic top forty cobbled path is fair enough, and undoubtedly reflective of the nature of the current beast – bills have to be paid..
Deeper exploration of the artist’s back catalogue however, demonstrates Stack’s irrepressible talent for exploring and opening up a wide range of different styles, and this in itself is a testament to his skills as a producer and remixer. Comparisons could be drawn to acts such as Innovative Leisure label-mates Lazer Sword or Glasgow’s own Mia Dora, and in the four or so years that Stack has been on the scene he has ventured into the realms of dubstep, codeine paced hip hop, sun kissed house and everything in-between. It’s of no surprise then, that ‘Tell Me I Belong’ encompasses all these elements and more.
In the hands of a less co-ordinated artist this could more than easily end up as a messy splattering of disjointed sounds but the end result, happily, is an almost meditative collage, cohesive enough to keep all the pieces in place and avoid many of the classic pitfalls of the often tricky dance-centred long player.
Opener ‘Somewheres’ is an atmospheric synth led delicacy, recalling early Martyn with a startling organic touch, and from there the album takes on a life of its own. There’s a few nods to a number of classic Hyperdub traits, Baltimore club, the odd air horn and shades of R&B, all orbiting a handful of dancefloor fillers, particularly ‘Is It Me’ or lead single ‘Reassuring’, whilst ‘Everything To Say’ acts as a brooding, reflective interlude following the first wave.
Touches like these elevate ‘Tell Me…’ to an album, as opposed to merely a collection of tracks, and one which is at times surprising, melancholic and subtle.
Mongrel-house of the highest order. Tell Me I Belong is due out 28th June.