Palm Trax – ‘Equation’ ( Lobster Theremin )

Raw analogue house created solely on hardware has become something of a cliché in the modern house scene. It’s become all too common for releases to be described through their method of production rather than their musical merits, with many seemingly comfortable to sacrifice creativity and musicianship in favour of nostalgic fetishism. It appears that some are forgetting that the classics aren’t classics because of the equipment, they’re classics because of the music.

So it was with slight trepidation that I welcomed the entrance of yet another ‘underground’ label in the shape of  Lobster Theremin, but all traces of cynicism melted away as soon as I put aside my own pretentious misgivings and gave mysterious newcomer (?) Palms Trax a shot. This debut from the Berlin-based upstart was a surefire way to revive my jaded approach.

‘Late Jam’ gets things off to a solid start with sizzling hats licking across the staccato lead synths, nicely building to subtle acid accentuation at the culmination of a slow build. Revolutionary it isn’t, but it’s certainly not generic, with the sharply tuned crack of the percussion and carefully plotted progression allowing it to avoid the mire of mediocrity.

‘Equation’ takes things on a somewhat more introspective tip following the rousing opener, with smooth Detroit pads and reverberating claps combining to a more heads-down end-of-the-night affair. That is until sparkling arps are strewn across the track, bringing the whole thing forward into teary-eyed elation.

Bringing up the rear, ‘Houses In Motion’ acts as a real showcase for Palms Trax obvious talent for drum programming, the level of which is exceedingly high through the 12″. With samba-leaning cowbell japery designed to get hips swinging and a similar melodic framework as ‘Equation’, it’s a solid end to the original material on the EP.

And if that wasn’t enough, the eminent Willie Burns finishes up the record with a mean rework of ‘Late Jam’. Taking it even more lo-fi, for want of a better phrase, it’s a markedly darker approach to the original, with frayed edges and moments of structural insanity giving proceedings a real sense of instability. Constantly warping and malleable in its execution, it’s wonderfully silly stuff that possibly eclipses anything else on the 12″.

Maybe I was a bit hasty in my introduction, after all I don’t want you to think that my earlier grievances about the state of house were some sort of rejection of the rich history of the genre. A respect of what’s gone before is necessary for all but the most revolutionary approaches to music and, whilst Palms Trax’s style is obviously hugely indebted to the Windy and Motor City, there’s something undoubtedly charming about this first 12″ on Lobster Theremin. Toeing the fine line between tasteful tribute and hackneyed regurgitation, firmly veering swiftly towards the former, this is exactly how it should be done. Maybe things aren’t so bad, hey?

The ‘Equation’ EP is out now on Lobster Theremin

Patrick Henderson

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