Australian synth wizard Mike Katz has been drumming up quite a reputation for his live performances recently, and alongside some promising releases on Echovolt and Voyage, it was enough to solicit the interest of house-don Motor City Drum Ensemble, who’s just released Katz’ latest – and finest – slab of wax.
Katz records as Harvey Sutherland, and his sound is not totally new for those who have been keeping an eye on the lazy house-funk hybrids of Germans Max Graef and Glenn Astro, or even certain Floating Points or Lone records. But Katz is a distinct product of Melbourne’s bubbling scene, also home to top labels like Untzz and Big Doint, and while some overseas funksters can lose the groove in a sea of soulful chill, these Australians never seem to leave the club far behind.
‘Bermuda‘ is a shining gem of a tune, its intro alone a thing of beauty. Jazzy keys drift blissfully into nowhere, interrupted by a dramatic bass stab and a gentle 4 / 4. Then just after the one-minute-mark we drop into a funky staccato groove which would get anyone moving, regardless of taste or energy levels. Katz’ musicianship comes to the fore as he adds layer upon layer of lush melody to the arrangement, coming to a stunning climax of syrupy synths and cascading arpeggios that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
B-side ‘New Paradise‘ is the twilight burner to Bermuda’s call-to-dance. Another set of gorgeous keys and subtle strings court a stripped kick-clap combo, before Katz lets rip another stunning synthline that opens out as the track progresses, deftly woven into a range of subtle harmonies. Katz may be referencing a lot of classic music with his sound, but there isn’t a touch of pastiche here. His feelgood vibes are genuine, his skill is real, and the club power of these tunes, particularly the A-side, is not to be underestimated.
2. New Paradise