Will Saul – Pedal Power / Valhalla

Fresh off the heels of his !K7 mix, Will Saul returns to his own AUS label with a refreshing change from the paint-by-numbers house that’s recently featured in its catalogue. Don’t mistake it for the pop-bordering vocal house of Saul’s Close project either, because Pedal Power and Valhalla are destined for the dance floor. Their construction is such that it could propel any night into any direction, and the various elements that Saul brings together on this EP avoid the current gentrification of his chosen genre, in a progressive format.

Just as you are about to resign opener Pedal Power to the ubiquitous 4/4 house periphery, a syncopated snare and hi-hat throws you off course, with a break on the 4th that pulls the whole thing into two-step territory rather than anything in the house genre. Saul displays a mastery over the beat as he brings back a bit of experimentation into the functional side of house music through a minimal set-up comprising of little more than drum machine (according to the press release). Delayed synth elements bubble around the edges as a simple bass-line, morphing through various modulations, takes centre stage for the most part. A vocal sample is used as filler rather than a hook, but what is significant is the way that Will Saul gets the most of this token set-up. He combine’s and adapts only a few sequences to an effect far greater than one would expect, and in his efforts he could stimulate even the most convoluted listener.

This carries on through to Valhalla, which is more rounded than Pedal Power in terms of production, but definitely cut from the same cloth. There’s a clear Progressive House phenomenon present with various Techno influences popping up through the percussive programming. It’s the type of tracks you’d relish to hear when the night is at its peak and the atmosphere at its darkest and most menacing. I’m sure this will be one of those releases on AUS, like George Fitzgerald’s Like a Child, that will continue to pop up in sets long after the hype subsides. Although Pedal Power and Valhalla both denote some sort of advancement in their title – there might actually be something in that with regards to the artist and his label – I am sure they will stay with us for some time to come.