Will Saul: Simple Sounds
Simple Records

Five years after Simple Records' creation, Will Saul, the mastermind behind the Simple and Aus labels, steps out with a more-than-solid double-disc of artist tracks and a DJ mix. The first half features four new and exclusive cuts as well as remixes by Sideshow, Gui Borrato, Partial Arts, 2020Soundsystem, and others, while part two weaves top-notch material—earthy and electronic—from both labels into a superb whole.

Disc one focuses on deep, house grooves that exude a laid-back feel, and the sometimes heavily percussive material is sweetened with soul and funk touches and occasional synth flourishes that add a spacey dimension. The smooth groove is established immediately by the tight groover “3000 AD” where breezy atmospheres billow over a surging pulse and chunky bass line. There's ample variety: the beach-side vibe comes to the forefront in the glorious “Mbira” remix by Wahoo that's dominated by Latin percussion and fueled by a surging disco-house swing. The mood then shifts but not displeasingly when Sideshow gives “Sequential Circus” a beautifully tight dub makeover sparked by gunshot snares and a classic dub bass part—the Man Machine-styled synth theme is a nice touch too. While “Out There...” offers a similarly styled sampling of bubbly dub-house, the head-nodder “Cubrika” moves the disc in the direction of robotic techno. Gui Borrato gives “Sequential Circus” a burbling techno overhaul that gradually morphs into a twitchety, twanging stream, while Saul himself remixes Chicken Lips' low-rider “Motion Sickness” which backs pairs a suave male vocal (“Clearing my throat / I'm fading to black / Getting my coat / I'm not turning back”) with electro squiggles and a slamming groove.

Though it offers numerous pleasures, the first half is bettered by the clubbier mix disc, due in part to its more propulsive and immersive character. Once it starts pumping two minutes into My My's “Butterflies & Zebras,” it never lets up. Prepare to bask in the celestial electro-jack splendour of Lee Jones' “There Comes a Time,” Motorcitysoul's “Kazan (Exit Cube),” and Alexkid's remix of Marc Romboy's “Sunburst.” True to its name, Sideshow's “Philly Soundworks” features snappy, Rhodes-kissed soul-funk that does the City of Brotherly Love proud, while “African Cheri” subtly works associative guitar and percussive touches into its bubbly groove. Mid-disc remixes by Spirit Catcher, Jimpster, and Saul of Phonique's “What I Play,” Tam Cooper's “Galactica,” and Content's “It's So...” are all superb exercises in infectiously snappy electro-techno, and it's hard to argue with banging Sideshow remixes by John Tejada and Mathew Jonson either. If Saul designed Simple Sounds to act as a selling point for his labels' material, its fresh grooves more than succeed (the second half's especially) in doing so.

October 2007