Semtek: West Acyd Shelter
Don't Be Afraid

West Acyd Shelter is the latest EP release from the Don't Be Afraid label, which Benjamin Roth (aka Semtek and one-third of DJ outfit Lostbahnhof) launched in 2009. The man brings a storied background to his material: after a London stay exposed him to the ‘90s hardcore and rave scenes, a 2001 move to Moscow and chance meeting with synth pop DJ, Andrei Panin, furthered his dance music education. 2008-2009 found Roth living in a small village in the French Alps preparing the material that's now coming to light via Don't Be Afraid, an imprint specifically designed to promote underground UK House and Techno music.

The ten-minute Semtek barnburner “West Acyd Shelter” might use a ‘70s jazz-funk record as a starting point, but Roth breathes new life into it with a relentlessly chugging funk-house groove that won't be denied and then spritzes it with all manner of aural colour. The tune's tasty hook intones repeatedly, driving itself ever deeper into one's cranium as it does so, and the plenitude of acidy and broken beat sounds with which Semtek dresses up the luscious, bass-powered stepper only makes it all the more enticing. Roth hands the reins over to Photonz (Marco Rodrigues and Miguel Evaristo) for a “West Acyd Shelter” makeover that finds the Portugal duo holding on to the track's main theme while also kicking it into high gear with a hard-hitting tribal pulse. A nice breakdown allows room for a sweet piano-and-strings episode to surface before the boys bring out the heavy artillery for a hammering, garage-styled coda. The B-side's “East Acyd Shelter” might be the most straightforward cut of the three, but it's no less satisfying. Claps and kick drums anchor the tune to a metronomic 4/4 but grooving bass lines and silken strings bring out its funky and dramatic qualities, respectively. The slinky stepper caps the EP nicely and proves to be a worthy sparring partner to its “West Acyd Shelter” counterpart. It's quality material no matter which way you cut it, and one comes away from the release more than a little impressed with this Don't Be Afraid offering.

May 2011