By the blistering standards set by Glaswegian label Dixon Avenue Basement Jams since their inception in 2012, this year has been quiet. Their latest offering from debutant Denis Sulta marks only their third release of the year. However, quality over quantity is an adage all too relevant as ‘Denis Sulta Select Vol. 1’ strikes a near perfect blend of old and new through 3 stunning, sample laden tracks.
‘A.A.S’ kicks proceedings off, sampling Smokey Robinsons feel good anthem ‘Being with you’ with fierce gusto. Sulta’s interpretation is the emotional antithesis to the classic, testament to his ability to take disparate styles and re-imagine them seamlessly. One loses themselves in the lyrics personal monologue, boldly declaring apathy for all but the pursuit of affection. Yet romantic crooning is juxtaposed against a backdrop of acidic licks and thumping kicks, creating the darkest tune of the EP. The 303 rears its head slowly to begin, before snarling fiercely and warning to bite, but Sulta displays mature restraint as the track winds down and eerily whispers to close.
Flip over, and Smokey is at it again. However, ominous overtones are washed away by ‘A.A.L.A.S.’ and its soulful groove. Vocals are chopped and relayered skilfully over jacking high hats reminiscent of DABJ’s star producer Marquis Hawkes. Picture a mesmerized dancefloor shuffling to a swinging bassline which effortlessly floats in and out. Nothing ever feels rushed or displaced (an accolade relevant in general) and this finesse is surprising considering the producer’s inexperience. No doubt it’s the result of years spent working behind the counter at Rubadub Records – enviable surroundings to plight ones craft.
The funk laden bass licks of Oliver Cheatham’s infamous ‘Saturday Night’ structure the final track of the same name, and its perhaps the most transformed of all samples employed. A real workout at 135 BPM, it’s the fastest and most relentless of all 3. A theme of repetition plays out here more than before, reminiscent of Robert Hood’s offerings under the Floorplan moniker. Evidently a comparison not to be drawn lightly, Sulta nevertheless deserves it, with the track hammering out slight variances on 4 bars of classic bass guitar without ever becoming remotely tiresome. It’s so infectious that I’m compelled to call it my pick of the bunch, although the hesitancy with which I type this sentence should reinforce the quality and diversity of the whole EP. Watch this chap closely people.
The release also forms the second part of an ongoing collaborative series between DABJ’s & long-time friend and artist Dan Axon. He was kind enough to share some insight into the process of making these ‘uncompromisingly modern’ prints, which focuses in this instance on the labels dog – Reggie.
‘They feed me themes that suit the release and I go to work having never heard the music, just working on my understanding of the city, the energy of their scene up there. A common set of artistic values across all parties means that the music and artwork are always harmonious.’