Simple and effective. This sounds like an early DFA cut with a slightly more British slant.
I've been a fan of Gonzales' beautiful solo piano work, production work for the likes of Feist (whatever happened to...?) and his more dance orientated work. Boys Noize are a bit less on my radar these days... Having been part of the French-led noisy distorted dance movement championed by Justice and Ed Rec, German producer Alexander Ridha feels like something very much of that era.
Together here as Octave Minds you get the sense both have something to gain - Gonzales has already benefited from a glossy sheen on Ivory Tower, a record produced by Ridha, and this represents a great opportunity for Ridha to move on to something a bit less, well, noisy and overtly masculine than Boys Noize.
This single precedes a full album, is available to download from Soundcloud for free and pretty much delivers to a standard as good as either artists has achieved on their own.
Joshua Idehen seems to be everywhere at the moment, having also just announced his new album with LV, Islands, a follow up to 2011's Routes... I Can't Figure You Out is the debut EP from Hugh, one of Idehen's many projects, this time the result of a chance meeting with fellow London musician Andy Highmore in a bar.
The two uncovered a shared appreciation a number of disperate musical influences - the dreamy sun-kissed reverb of Beach House, the uniquely British sound of Soul II Soul, the vocal harmonies of Grizzly Bear. If it is difficult to imagine what these things sound like together now, it won't be once you have heard I Can't Figure You Out.
Now joined by guitarist Martin 'Tino' Kolarides and vocalist Izzy Brooks, Hugh feel very much a complete and well prepared band. Each of the four tracks here stands out in its own right. On Charlie both Idehen and Brooks pine for a friend or lover led astray, a tribute to the kind of unconditional love that is incapable of fading. Alongside this the music sways, a breezy easy-going soul matched up with a warm deep house bounce.
I Can't Figure You Out is every bit as potent as when Hugh posted it (and I shared it) last month. It's a dreamy, spellbound maze of emotions - longing, lust and confusion - with Brook's vocals captivating and the dramatic production lending the song the life-or-death sensibility it sets out to invoke. On Not Fair Too Far the bass and rhythms provide some earthly humanity in contrast to the fluttering heart beats of layered of warm syncopated, staccato melodies. Again, another track about confused emotions and the need for clarity and someone trust-worthy - ironic given the uncomplicated dedication of the EP's opening.
As if in response to that contrast I Can Be Your Light feels like the completion of the square - a song of utter devotion. In contrast to the rest of the EP it feels just a touch thin, almost over-produced, but the vocals and piano playing are sublime. The tentative arrival of Izzy's vocal, seemingly out of nowhere on the word 'window' but actually there gently building courage over the preceding lines, feels like a metaphor for the push and pull of real love. Give a bit and trust the other person reciprocates, pull back and see if they come forward... But just don't play those silly games.
If I Can't Figure You Out is anything to go by Hugh wear their heart on their sleeves - this is an EP that talks of little more than the complexity and range of human emotional attraction. It does so with enough honesty to make it feel fresh, and style to make it feel irresistible.
If I Can't Figure You Out is out now, listen below on Soundcloud: