"There is a beautiful harmony between Mancunian artist Willow and German imprint Workshop, a case of when the artist finds the right home for their work"
There is a beautiful harmony between Mancunian artist Willow and German imprint Workshop, a case of when the artist finds the right home for their work. Workshop’s release schedule is unhurried, as is Willow’s – whose previous release was 2016’s ‘Workshop 23‘, and an introductory slot on 2015’s ‘Workshop 20‘. That sense of considered delivery continues through into her productions, with an uncanny ability to spotlight every instrument – warm and harmonious as a whole, yet every sound can be clearly latched on and followed to in isolation.
While there is this clear thread spanning the years, there is something different about ‘Workshop 30‘. Most evident are track titles, breaking with the untitled Workshop norm. Also, where the former release focused on broken soul, ‘Workshop 30‘ is steered towards dance floor hypnotism. Both ‘Squirrel City‘ and ‘Sexuall‘ are jazz flecked grooves, harkening back to the post-Hacienda days when Manchester evolved into one of the focal deep house hot spots. The key here is the interplay between the breathy chords and wiggly low end – it’s deep, techy and undeniably underground.
Between these is the dub chug of ‘Phoebe‘, as if it were storm cloud that threatens a summer’s street party. The motifs are familiar, but their assembly is meticulous – the interplay of light and dark, of frozen reverb and ping pong delay, all anchored by a heavy kick. But the biggest delight, and surprise, belongs to the the closing track ‘Strawberry Moon‘, a superb off-kilter piece of 2-step. It recalls threads of Marc Leclair and Todd Edwards in a feverish dream state where the controls are firmly in the control of somebody other than yourself, and they’re more than determined to make you feel like you’ve just stepped off a waltzer.
‘Workshop 30’ is out now via Workshop. Order a copy from Juno.
A1. Squirrel City
B2. Strawberry Moon
B3. Loop 1
B4. Loop 2
B5. Loop 3