Graze: Edges (New Kanada)
Way back in my early days of shopping for records at Gramaphone in Chicago, I remember Adam Marshall’s debut 12” getting hyped. I picked it up in my usual weekly glut of minimal techno and tech house records, back when I still bought a lot of vinyl. Sadly those days are over; if I DJ lately, I just use Ableton and bring my laptop. I save a lot of money and space, though there is something I miss about the ritual of getting new records, previewing them at the shop, taking them home, listening on a Saturday morning with dedicated attention. Fast forward to 2013 and I’ve just been porting my entire digital music library from my old tower to a new laptop, and I stumbled across Mr. Marshall’s music again, unplayed for years. I enjoyed revisiting his stuff but wondered, “What happened to this guy?” (I didn’t obviously pay close attention.) The answer is Graze, a new collaboration between dubstep producer XI (a.k.a. Christian Anderson) and Adam Marshall. I’m not familiar with XI’s repertoire, but these are decidedly four-to-the-floor tracks in most cases, eschewing virtually any trappings one might associate with dubstep or even some of its more leftfield offshoots. Each of the tracks here sounds somehow familiar, almost like variations on a theme (despite that not actually being the case). Rather than merely functioning as dancefloor utility, however, there is a soul behind this music. That doesn’t mean there are swooning vocal bits or any such thing, just warm grooves and infectious hooks that go down smoothly like the best kind of comfort food. Many of the tracks push and pull between the depths of a big warehouse boom, with plenty of space for reverb and details, and something more intimate and personal. Tracks like “Scrap” and “Cold Drop” have a darker edge, with a tinge of industrial bite just below the surface. But more often than not the sound is a shade lighter, like the swirling depth of “Ripley” or the syncopated stride of “GoldN.” Closing track “Oath” is a handsome finale, slowing things down to a chillwave halfbeat as last call. Very handsome all around, recommended for fans of deep electronic grooves that touch on some current trends without being a slave to any of them. A great soundtrack after hours or for a late night drive.