Kesper – Moonwalk EP [SLIPSTONE]
Day by day we are entering uncharted territory in terms of music and culture. As the competitive demands on our attention reach ever higher, we are coming to a point where consumer has simultaneously become producer; the breadth and complexity of the musical landscape is overwhelming and never before have we been so inundated with information. It goes, then, that getting noticed amongst the crowd is becoming increasingly challenging, while the number of labels setting up shop every month rises exponentially. It is a tough and unforgiving world but for those with enough grit and talent to make it through, the rewards are great.
Making big first impressions is a Leeds-based record label called Slipstone Records. Here we have their debut release from the incredibly talented Kesper; behind the alias is a promising young producer and DJ by the name of Chris Pawlik, another Leeds resident. Slipstone001 is a three-track 12″ of deep, spacey house flavours; the sound is both fresh and polished and is Pawlik’s first ever release on wax. An inspired inauguration of the label, the EP and label launch has been the best part of a year’s culmination of challenging work, with many tempting opportunities along the way to back out and move on. Yet this craft is often a game of patience, and the fruits of a dedicated effort and resolute vision have paid off.
The EP is wonderfully produced and is suitably named ‘Moonwalk’, providing the conceptual backdrop for which to guide our auditory journey. On the A-side we have ‘Afterglow’, a space odyssey through the glittering, infinite cosmos. The track opens the EP with vague, distant harmonies while flurries of air breathe life into the soundscape. The kick enters soon after, strong yet conservative, accompanied by the slow expansion of texture through delicately programmed percussion and a simple, succinct bass-line. The spacious atmosphere of this number really leads the listener on a journey, one of discovery and wonder. Spacey pads and airy textures really evoke the new-age feel of the EP and the inspired space concept is brought to life through its opening, radiating with dreamful imagination and vitality. New life, new beginnings, a new frontier. What a stunning track to open with.
B1, entitled ‘Transmission’, brings to life the space theme with an opening radio transmission, yet stylistically is a lovely contrast to ‘Afterglow’. Woodblocks echo into the dark, evocative of the quiet idling of intermittent strobe lights while the space station drifts purposefully in the stark nothingness. A strong tip-off to our US counterparts, Pawlik really captures the deep Detroit style, employing that familiar off-beat hat and a groovy minimal bass-line to lay down the classic feel. The break-down is greeted by a message to Houston as the ship climbs around the edge of the Earth’s curved exosphere, rimmed with the intense golden glow of the sun. ‘Transmission’ really brings to life the not too distant reality of space travel and galactic voyage.
‘Re-entry’ concludes the EP on a techno flex and is arguably the best of the three tracks. Slightly darker in mood, the track opens with subdued glimmers of a later motif, suspenseful twinkling glitters across the steady kick and reserved percussion. Pawlik shows a skill for simple yet effective motifs and the bass-line once again takes centre stage, as it forms probably the most defining feature of this track. Straight after the introduction Pawlik brings us into our first break-down, growing from nothing while he feeds each component back into the mix. The hollow kick returns to push things forward while the undulating bass-line continues its course. The music’s form is not at all complex, his reductive instrumentation allows for clean, tidy textures with plenty of room to breathe; which is challenging as this puts a greater pressure and exposure on the quality of your musical content. A great track to end on, ‘Re-Entry’ leaves us wanting more and is perfect for building up a set.
Alongside his production work Kesper is also an able DJ, already making his mark on the Leeds and London circuit – be sure to catch him playing one of his engaging house & techno sets while the hunger’s high. Representing the next generation of UK electronic artists, Leeds-based Kesper will definitely be one to watch out for over the coming years, with more music already in the pipeline hopefully scheduled for release later this year.