David Tort’s ‘Jack it Up’ promises ‘a tempestuous sea of dark synths’ but actually delivers ‘a turgid canal of muddy loops’.
With pretensions to dancefloor dominance, this six-minute track needs a radio/single edit to really appeal to the mass market. The mix reviewed makes too many concessions to the club DJ’s needs to be considered in itself as a single.
…the compulsory bit where the beat drops out (wait for it…. Boom! It’s back! Hooray!)
Its first forty seconds and final minute are undeveloped beats, included in all club mixes so that DJs can easily cue them up. Whilst useful in the proper context, it does nothing for a radio edit other than allow more time for the presenter to blather about free mojitos in the VIP area at Fabric. Not ideal. Another concession to the dancefloor is where the track breaks down into a series of dubs at around two minutes in, and really needs stereo panning to get the most impact. Panning is discouraged in dancefloor-destined records though, as most club systems use bi-wired speakers which can’t reproduce the effect. Home (and car) hi-fis don’t usually have that restriction.
What is annoying about this record though is its sheer predictability. It is droolingly morose in its devotion to the pattern of eight-bar house music. There’s the initial build (come on LAYDEEZ – get those hands in the AIR!), the drop (suck your cheeks in, pout, vamp a little), the breakdown (ooh, trippy) and the compulsory bit where the beat drops out (wait for it…. Boom! It’s back! Hooray!).
This is not music, it’s Lego.
Every bar has an equally-weighted four beats thudding along, on every eighth bar a musical event – either a key change, a tweak of the high-hat beat, or some atmospheric chord from the Reason Factory Soundbank – is comped in. Everything comes in blocks of eight bars, stacked geometrically across the laptop screen which made it with all the imaginative flair of a tired housemum on her fifth hour voicing a live sex-chat service whilst the ironing piles up. The most exciting event is when a beat is tweaked on the FOURTH bar, not the EIGHTH! This is not music, it’s Lego. Got a Vauxhall Nova with 20-inch alloys? This is your soundtrack, greasy sebum oozing rhythmically from your polyester-swathed pores with every plodding kick-beat, as you lay out burnt rubber doughnuts on the asphalt of Lidl carparks.
Because the tune has a brooding intensity to it (like a whiffy kebab) it will be mistaken in some circles for progressive dance music. Dubstep, glitch and breakcore have been pioneering new ground on dancefloors for half a decade now, and elements of their psychological and dramatic sonics will inevitably provide fodder for the mainstream to appropriate into their more accessible, diluted offerings. ‘Jack it Up’ doubtless hopes to be one of those, but it fails to deliver. As a harder, darker version of mainroom house, there are probably dancefloors somewhere where it will convince, but more likely in Bracknell than Berlin.
Out now on Size Records.
Sean Keenan used to write. Now he edits, and gets very annoyed about the word ‘ethereal’. Likely to bite anyone using the form ‘I’m loving….’. Don’t start him on the misuse of three-dot ellipses.
Divides his time between mid-Spain and South-West France, like one of those bucktoothed, fur-clad minor-aristocracy ogresses you see in Hello magazine, only without the naff chandeliers.