Tevo Howard: Monument EP
Buzzin' Fly

There's a deliciously endearing old-school (future-retro if you prefer) quality to Monument's trio of tracks by Chicago underground house maestro Tevo Howard that makes Buzzin' Fly and Yore Records feel like first cousins. In this solid sequel to 2011's The Age Of Compassion, Howard uses a modicum of sources (drum machines, sine waves, square waves, oscillators) to fashion the material's rich, full-bodied sound.

There's a luscious swagger to the title cut that makes its raw house style feel fresh and totally of-the-moment, no matter how stark the arrangement might be. Howard eschews the usual narrative template with its dramatic peaks and valleys for a more even-tempered flow that's in this case punctuated with Radioactivity-styled bleeps and blips. For six hard-grooving minutes, old-school percussive accents and unfussy drums hold down the rhythmic fort while sine tones sing their joyously pulsating songs. Howard gooses the funky jaunt of “Conditional Love” with an ear-catching ride cymbal thrum before fleshing out the track with additional percussive flavour and an hypnotic kalimba-styled riff—the track a percussive joint more than anything else but captivating nonetheless. He shows his affection for percussive detail one final time in “The Wind of the World,” which otherwise evokes the future-classic sound of Detroit techno and Chicago house in merging gleaming synthesizer pulsations with vibrant ride cymbal showers and chugging drums. All production considerations aside, a human heart clearly beats at the core of Monument's machine music.

April 2012