There’s no shortage of fresh producers pushing house releases at the moment, and more and more artists producing more generic material are getting lost in the flood: if you’re a newcomer you can’t just sit down and make a house tune anymore, you have to do something different. Zeké Africa, aka A Thousand Years (a sci-fi homage, much like the gorgeous cover art), is one such producer who is sure to stand out; showing on his new EP for King Deluxe a taste for sophistication and mood rarely found on debut releases.
The core of this impressive EP is undoubtedly the double punch of Flying High and Have To Tell You, a pair of powerful house numbers that use the same vocal sample and beat patterns to show two very different sides of the same coin. Flying High is a complex piece of sound engineering but doesn’t sacrifice any of its power; a rolling pitched-down vocal and a shifting array of twinkling synths add to the fantastically detailed and finely textured drum patterns, resulting in a rolling house number that might take more than a single listen to fully absorb. On the flipside Have To Tell You is darker and more overtly angled at the dancefloor; this time more attention is paid to the low-end, with an elastic bassline and shuttering beats underpinning moodier synthwork.
For an average house EP you’d be forgiven for thinking that the strongest dancefloor moments prove the biggest asset to the release, while other interludes are less necessary listening; not so for A Thousand Years. There’s an impressive degree of variation across these tracks; such as Where I Wanna Be’s off-kilter hip hop lope and inspired vocal sampling (chanting children lend the tune an unusual innocence). Elsewhere this variation impresses even more however; opener No Light is a dusky 4am club track, with a warm ambient throb and an array of muttered vocal accents. Things get even further removed from house on unexpected hip hop-referencing Bake Take, a deeply unsettling slice of bass that hovers at 140bpm, shining particularly bright with the superbly eerie voice that falters menacingly over the line ‘hey there mister, why the fuck are you looking at me?’
It’s always going to be a matter of taste, but for me the only moment this release falters is on closer Their Technology, where chiming synths introduce a bizarrely twee melody that fails to hold attention or conjure any concrete mood. Aside from this single misstep, Farmers in Fields of Stars is remarkably confident and successful debut. Each track is robust and atmospheric and A Thousand Years proves a deft hand at juggling complex rhythms while keeping the tracks accessibly melodic. This is house music a little more grown up and sophisticated than your average club fare, and should be considered required listening for anyone looking for an accomplished cross-section of the genre’s many moods and influences.