East London duo Chesca and Elliott Yorke have been producing high calibre electro-funk separately for a number of years now, and their partnership as Royalty is one that excites as much as it makes complete sense. The pair celebrated their union earlier in the year with a flurry of EP releases for the Five Easy Pieces label, the latest of which, Purple Nights, demonstrates the rapid maturity of their suave digital boogie.
Opener ‘Cookie Dough’ is constructed from steadily building layers of synths and electro drums, each new melody line or chord sequence that drops in playing an important role in the song’s equation. It’s followed directly by a reworking from Detroit man Jimmy Edgar, which turns out to be one of the best things here. Taking the track straight back to the house clubs of ‘80s New York, Edgar throws some ultra-shuffled keys and diva-ish vocal samples into the
7-minute plus mix, completely transforming the original into a slow burn masterpiece.
‘Heart Strings’ continues the ‘80s theme, blending a little Fat Back Band synth funk with a cop show soundtrack feel, before ‘Octane’s fluttering sequencer runs give way to more of the same; checking its coat at the door before strutting to the bar for a piña colada. Dâm-Funk would be an obvious contemporary touchstone, yet Royalty’s sound bypasses the hammed up Zapp and Roger bounce of the Californian; raising the tempo and drawing straight from the
heart of their influences – sometimes to their own detriment. The tone here is ‘80s to the core, and Royalty are sometimes guilty of transcending pastiche and just recycling the decade’s sound in a production-by-numbers way. When they get it right however, as with the 808 bounce of ‘Halley’s Trail’ – a coastal breeze of a track, complete with shimmering chords and a laid back swagger – it’s devastatingly good, and only serves to drive home the shortfalls of some of their less inventive material.
More polished than the Royalty EP, and less frantic than the dance floor techno-funk of ‘Staircase’ EP, this collection signifies a bright future for the duo, one that hopefully includes a full-length release in 2012.
‘Purple Nights’ is out now on Five Easy Pieces.