New Grooves: Hijinkx – What I Feel For You EP [FL]
For the last couple of decades Leeds has been at the cutting edge of electronic music; perhaps somewhat unassuming, the city is a Northern enclave seemingly accessible only to the initiated, boasting a devout fan-base that swear by the experiences that linger fondly in the mind. Home to the longest running club-night in the world, Back To Basics, the old vanguard have made way for an illustrious lineage of clubbing brands and artistic collectives that continuously push forward the scene. A large and constantly renewing student population makes for a regenerative process that sees the various scenes constantly shifting and evolving, never reaching a static moment. The city is the perfect canvass, and has launched the careers and explorations of countless individuals over the years.
Such one young talent that has been emerging onto the scene in recent times is Leeds-based producer and DJ James Stanley. Going by the name of Hijinkx, a strong background in music has enriched his productions from the outset and the fledgling producer is showing no signs of slowing. Exploring a number of different sound-worlds along the way, Stanley originated in bass-heavy sound excursions, putting out tracks entrenched in Moombahton and Dubstep influences and the rapidly materialising contemporary UK Bass sound (see Hijinkx – ‘Metallic Vibez’ [Dank ‘N Dirty Dubz]). Moving from strength to strength having put out some very likeable bootlegs (see the ‘Say My Name‘ and ‘Call My Name‘ remixes), it could be said that Hijinkx experienced his first break with his ‘Let Me Tell You’ single, a track that is imbued with so much passion and yearning that it was immediately picked up by Ben Westbeech (aka Breach) and signed to his Naked Naked imprint last year.
Over the last year or so Stanley’s production has improved noticeably, with a greater maturity that can really be felt and heard in his music, honing in on a style that draws on a post-Jacques Greene flex of Deep House. Similarly inspired numbers include ‘You Don’t Care’ and ‘It’s Not Right’, both powerful statements that are not only emotionally engaging but also systematically effective in formula and structure.
Hijinkx’s latest offering is a full four-track EP that was released on Leeds-based imprint Foreign Language Recordings (May 26th). Entitled ‘What I Feel For You’, the EP is arguably one of the most developed productions he has put out thus far. Opening the EP is ‘Gentle’: the title self-evident from the opening, the introduction oozes that classic Detroit haze, with pulsating synths and stripped back percussion, our dedicated kick and sauntering bass-line eases us into the sultry vocal “I think you’re going to have to be gentle…”
Following suit, Stanley utilises the tried and tested vocal-loop rubric, “Look at that” uncovers the eyes as an off-beat hat entices the groove, shoulder-shuffling is accompanied by syncopated synth stabs while a well-pointed kick drives the track forward in effortless style. Sub-divided hats sit comfortably in the background while the insistent vocal returns to take us to the break-down, giving plenty of time for some positive audience response.
‘Speaks’ once again shows Stanley’s aptitude for vocal handling, treating the sample as an effective hook while side-chained synths provide much of the texture. The track thuds along with careful attention to a detailed texture – sporadic percussion and effects really bring the texture together. Similarly styled strings enter with their alternating intervals, adding a suspenseful rise while the track grows with the vocal refrain. It becomes increasingly apparent the minimal influence that features in the EP’s form. Instrumentation and arrangement hold enough integrity to support the minimal form these tracks take, while hinting toward a more Techno/Hard-House oriented agenda.
The final track, arguably the most prevailing on the EP, is ‘What I Feel For You’ and rounds off the EP beautifully. Anthemic, melancholic, cathartic; the track begins unassumingly, a long drawn pedal note and inward percussion set a simple, delicate stage for the vocal hook. After a minute-long introduction the track jumps to life with the entry of the kick and accompanying synth lines, long contours and rhythmically rooted vocal line add powerful pathos, while a break-down of saturated stabs and a yearning lead maintain the pace. The half-way mark makes for another break-down, with the crisp off-beat hat adding a new vitality, before it quickly recedes for beautiful synth harmonies to push through while the synth hook expands skyward in a glorious outburst of sound and emotion, making for a truly euphoric, sentimental moment. Definitely an anthem for this year’s Summer.
Promising work from the twenty-two year old musician; additionally, appearances at Gottwood and Beacons Festival this Summer have seen to a very successful year. Hijinkx is set to continue rising through the ranks and it would be wise to look out for further appearances in 2015 and beyond.