Airhead: Paper Street (Brainmath)
This 2 tracker from sometimes James Blake collaborator Airhead is an odd combination. The main cut starts off with a minute of ambience before breezy chords kick in, sort of like Pole rising to the challenge of current downtempo trends. There’s a lot of spacious reverb and crackle warmth to offset the jerky syncopation of its various subtle rhythmic tracks. Vocal samples creep in in the home stretch, manipulated out of language into something far more abstract (think Burial or Mount Kimbie). It’s a strange pick for a single, because there’s no real hook here – it’s a gorgeous track, but something tells me it might fit in well among others of its kind. Nick Höppner takes on remix duties on the flipside, though, and suddenly the the original is tweaked and manhandled into something far less abstract. Its kick drum immediately lets you know that this track is made for a dancefloor. In fact most of the production appears to be from Höppner’s hand directly – the first couple of minutes in full could pass as a totally separate minimal tech exercise. But once it gets going it all clicks – he pulls in chords and elements of the atmosphere of the original and restores the vocal sample into a much more coherent looping “Will you ever know” hook. It’s a highly functional and strangely seductive minimal house track, but it lacks the charisma and fragile beauty of the original. Still, there’s something for both camps here – a slick DJ tool alongside something far more sultry and beguiling for headphones listening.
Watch/listen: Paper Street