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Jay Daniel: Scorpio Rising EP

Rick Wilhite may well be correct when he states that there’s something special and unique about the water in Detroit. Giving credence to this view would certainly help us to explain how the Motor City is able to nurture an assortment of musical protégés that includes Generation Next, MGUN and Kyle Hall. With ‘Scorpio Rising’ – Jay Daniel’s debut release (on none other than Theo Parrish’s prestigious Sound Signature label) – we can confidently add another name to the list.

In no uncertain terms, what makes this EP successful and a pleasure to listen to is that each track carries its own insatiable groove. Whether that groove be generated and sustained through sneering basslines and restless snares, as in ‘No Love Lost’ and ‘I Have No Name, stuttering pitched kicks ‘Brainz’ or a typical Detroit deep house melody ‘Bubble Cougar’, Daniel is more than proficient in each department. His hands-on approach to production yields a fresh, laissez-faire sound and is perhaps most discernible on ‘I Have No Name’ with its un-quantised snare rolls, or ‘Brainz’, where splintered hats wreak havoc in the track’s top-end.

Dynamic percussion aside, my favourite track on the release has to be ‘Bubble Cougar’. Simply, it employs the best kick I’ve heard on a deep house track this year. Whilst bringing us back to earlier jagged, proper jacking house tracks, it simultaneously propels us forward into the stratosphere as it is caressed by twinkling and musty extra-terrestrial melodies. The track’s only fault is that it simply ends so suddenly. Put together, all of these particularities and peculiarities bestow this 12” a certain joie de vivre and freshness that over-compressed releases of today sadly lack.

Given that they are both residents at Detroit’s Fundamentals night together, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Daniel should share Hall’s preference for raw, lo-fi production. But it is also unsurprising that Daniel, in acknowledging his predecessors, should also suffuse this EP with dulcet sweeps and chords that nod in the direction of Omar-S and Delano Smith particularly. The Motor City may be strapped for cash, but we can rest assured that its underground music scene continues to thrive, stocking the city with a unique musical currency that shows no sign of losing its value.