Severn Beach is the latest guise of Well Rounded affiliate, House proprietor James Fox. By the sounds of his ‘Stitches EP’ for Audio Culture, the moniker signifies a pretty drastic shift in outlook when compared to his work as James Fox a few years back. Having said this, the EP does retain shades of his earlier work, notably the mastery of infectious synth work rife throughout the EP. For the most part however, the release shifts Fox’s orientation towards a subtler, dub-techno edged perspective, perhaps akin to the likes of Lo Shea or Claro Intelecto. The three cuts on the EP all exploit incredibly simple yet equally effective blueprints, a fairly dim and distant relation to the relatively unrestrained early Fox productions, such as ‘New Jack Swing’ or ‘Put It Back’.
‘Stitches’ opens as a powerful mission statement for the Severn Beach project. Dubby stabs roll over raw, no frills percussion and echoing, gently filtered vocal sampling. Mid way through Fox begins to gradually work in a simmering acid bassline slowly building to take the lead through the final portion of the track.
Fox’s bubbling synth work is extended through ‘Pressure Waves’. Cascading toms enter into a fast flowing call and respond with buoyant ascending synth riffs. The track possesses a Actress-esque, oddball quality in its staggered rhythms, glitchy peripheral hi-hats, and resonant cowbell hits on the offbeat.
Final track ‘Do The Vortex’ is perhaps the most affront cut on the EP, and also exploits the simplest of formulas. Glossy drones are offset by crunching rhythms and a propellant bass groove. It builds with effortlessly minimal rhythmic variations, and tastefully restrained atmosphere surges. The powerhouse kick snare combos endure throughout make it obvious when to dance, keeping the track fluid and energetic.
In a recent interview with the fantastic Teshno blog, Fox revealed that if all goes to plan we should see at least one more release under the Severn Beach guise this year, and by the reckoning of his debut offering the UK dance music scene will be all the richer for it.
The ‘Stitches’ EP is out now via Audio Culture.