Marquis Hawkes – ‘Maladaptive Brain Dysfunction’ (Creme Organization)

Anonymity is a funny thing in electronic music. If an artist keeps the masses guessing, a handful will try to credit their success to the hype generated by cultivating an air of mystery. Marquis Hawkes is one such producer that doesn’t apply to, and you’d be hard-pressed in finding someone who doesn’t agree that a meteoric rise is indebted to much else but the merit of his productions. Having made his mark with releases on Glasgow’s Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, the elusive producer’s next outing comes on Crème Organization, a label with a very similar ethos of putting out raw, analogue-centric dance music with a hint of the peculiar.

Fluttering synth lines shimmer brightly over a loose, jacking beat on the opening track – a solemn affair similar to the dusty, sun-bleached House put out on Mister Saturday Night. Chugging along nicely to the rhythm of a strapping kick drum, the contrasting lo-fi percussive elements and crisp, sparkling electronics combine to create something heady and intoxicating.

‘Prince Among Men’ is a little meatier than its predecessor, revisiting the frantic approach that has been a fairly consistent theme throughout Marquis’ brief, but prolific career. Boisterous drums take centre stage as only a few truncated vocal sample and the slightest trace of melody are deployed to compliment a frenzied procession of percussion and bass. There isn’t a boring moment on the release and this is epitomised on ‘Sofia Acid’, where stripped-back drums reduced to the necessary components are brought to life by some pulsating 303 acid lines. Akin to the Chicago-based acid pioneers of the 80s, Marquis tends to know when to avoid complicating things.

It seems appropriate to finish things off with a track probably best used towards the latter stages of a party, in the lethargic ‘October Blues’. Peppered with clicks and whistles and driven on by some rolling toms, the engrossing arcs of synth and lurching bass manage to elicit a sense of melancholy. Come the end however, and you’re more likely to be left dancing then despairing.

As the title ‘Maladaptive Brain Dysfunction’ suggests, played loud and in the right environment, and a couple of these mind-bending tracks can be quite disorientating. Lacking the injection of soul present in his DABJ releases, this feels like new territory for Marquis Hawkes as he explores a more expansive side to his music. Instead of the unrestrained nature present his earlier work, this debut for Crème has a more contemplative feel, while still managing to keep the dance floor in mind.

‘Maladaptive Brain Dysfunction’ is out on September 1st. Pre-Order it here.

Matt Blair