Slam // Old School Jams For The New Republic [Soma]
Slam’s iconic Soma Records turned 20 last year, and the celebrations have lasted a while, these involving much of their old material being given new life by a variety of producers over the last few months – as such, this is their first new material on their own label for quite some time.
I’m starting off with System v System, the second track on this release, as it is by far the superior of the two. In the context of the second track, that is a bit of a back handed compliment – however, there is much to like here. Congas, frenzied hats, a thunderous kick drum, and an old school snare lead us through a blistering intro before a synth line arrives to provide some Tubeway Army-style atmosphere – then the snare and hats return to build real momentum, before the chainsaw buzz of the low end elevates the track further. Then the pad is stripped away and, out of nowhere, a funky bassline arrives – it blindsides you at first, but works very well, and the track grooves on nicely. The pad and bassline then take centre stage for the short break down, before everyone piles on as the track rides out of town.
In some ways this is a meeting of four decades, with the 70s funky bassline, 80s synths, 90s drum machine, and undoubted thunderous production of the new millenium – imagine a jam session with Carl Cox laying down some beats, Gary Numan on synths and Bootsy Collins on bass guitar, and you’re some way into understanding how this track comes across. I may be at risk of making it sound more interesting than it actually is, but it certainly is interesting – and when all elements come together the track really does take flight. I doubt it will ever be anyone’s favourite Slam tune, but it’s certainly the best on offer here.
I cannot recommend Primitive Sound at all unfortunately – System v System packs more energy into its first 90 seconds than this manages to garner over the entire 8 minutes. Sometimes acts of supreme talent come out with things that you struggle to imagine even their most die hard fans liking, and this is the case here.
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Stevie Reid