Church‘s reputation was cemented in the bowels of Corsica Studios with a sound that was resonated with the UK’s cutting edge. The label that followed, continued on this path and introduced us to the likes of Happa and Rumah, distributing a format that was eclectic, yet grounded in the undercurrent of electronic Dance music. At the head of the label its cofounders Apes and Seb Wildblood, have had steady string of releases that delve into the deeper side of house. Neither has particularly been successful in gaining the same notoriety as their label guests, but both have stuck to their dance-floor focussed objective. Seb is back with an EP that continues on in this tradition, albeit observing, what would appear to be a very laid-back approach on this occasion.
The original tracks that Seb has put together for Church’s fifth outing feature an emotive quality that has rarely been witnessed on a label whose functional dance excursions dominate past releases. Hunney sets the tone for the rest of the EP as live drums and a three-chord harmonic progression establishes an environment of serene contemplation rather than excessive footwork. At times I would have enjoyed further development from the label boss, but there’s a beauty in its simplicity too, which gives the music on the EP a care-free naivety that appears to originate from the comfort of a lawn chair. The visceral element of the EP is conjured by long sustained legato pads and down-tempo percussion and it provokes a visual association with shimmering sunlight refracting off dew-soaked grass, for those that need the imagery. Come into my House even negates the ever-present beat for a sub-bass whorl, a sound that appears to have emerged straight out of Corsica Studios’ room two bass bins. The absence of the kick and a lingering vocal sample manages to achieve a melancholic effect that seems to fit perfectly between the more light-hearted excursions of Hunney and Warm.
The remixes however never achieve the same results as they delve back into über-functional side of the dance floor. Edmondson’s re-imagination of Hunney lends a fair bit more urgency to the piece, subverting most of the original, while Apes’ remix of Warm offers a bouncier version for the more enthusiastic punter. Kommune 1 however seems to have missed the point completely, delving into pseudo industrial textures for his interpretation of Come into my House. It stripped Seb’s original of any of the emotive quality it previously adorned with an aggressive percussive programming that overpowers many of the more subtle parts completely. The kick drum often goes out of tune in the context of some melodic parts and because its so upfront it’s very noticeable and not at all that appealing, proving the point that a lot of remixes today are superfluous and some tracks are just better left untouched.
Seb Wildblood achieved the necessary effect without the inclusion of the remixes, and although Apes’ re-imagining of Warm will probably find its way into many DJ sets, Church005 doesn’t require a packed dance floor to be enjoyed. For that reason it has certain similarities to Fantastic Mr. Fox’s last outing on Black Acre, with it foregoing the beat in favour of harmony and melody. If the functional side of electronic music is secure in Rumah and Happa’s releases for Church, Seb has just revealed another side to the young label that will only be taken in its stride.