“Organic” is among the most overused adjectives applied to electronic music, but Cobblestone Jazz’s seminal 2006 tracks “Dumptruck” and “India In Me” are as apt a target for that word as probably any other dancefloor record from the noughties. 2007’s stunning LP, “23 Seconds”, duly added extra dimensions of propulsive, jittery abstraction to the improvisational brew, further cementing the Canadian group – and the Wagon Repair label – as amongst our finest purveyors of dancefloor-friendly experimentalism.
This new E.P., ahead of a forthcoming new album, instead pursues a more introspective line. ‘A’ side “Chance Dub” definitely preponderates upon the latter, built as it is around a looping plucked riff, throbbing kick and phasing static ala any number of dub techno records, before overlaying a typically acoustic-sounding drum beat, bumping sub bass and gently lilting pads. Things progress in a rather uncharacteristically linear and repetitive fashion, leaving us with something that, whilst not unsatisfying, lacks the track development or the hook needed for our extended emotional investment.
‘B’ side “Chance” is better, spawning a locomotive relationship between the layered percussion and rolling bassline, a sparingly-deployed harmonized vocal hook and some full-blooded Rhodes piano virtuosity swimming in well-judged hall reverb. Where previous Cobblestone releases playfully alluded to or simply made emblematic the “jazz” component of their moniker, this is an out-and-out freeform, improvisational trip, while retaining a genuinely propulsive 4/4 force.
While these tracks undoubtedly continue to shine Wagon Repair’s beacon for experimental-yet-functional dance music, they will still be judged against the abovementioned high points; and on that score, fail to deliver the floor-slaying, epic grandeur of “Dump Truck” or the unhinged, febrile, tech-edged darkness characterising much of “23 Seconds”. Having said that, there can surely be nothing more dispiriting as an artist to be continually judged against an older creative iteration, so perhaps that last comparison should be struck out, and this latest offering enjoyed for what it is: high quality organic dance music.