Following on from his initial works of 2012, ‘Pretty Ugly’, Leon Smart a.k.a Scratcha DVA‘s latest dip into the pool of hybrid UK Funky comes in the form of another 2×12″ release, ‘Fly Juice’. Released via Hyperdub, the 8 track EP features 8 original tracks, 4 on wax, 4 available as a digital bonus.
Title track and personal favourite on the record, Fly Juice, could really be two tunes merged into one. It opens with a softening combination of sting bass and toy piano keys, backed by an unimposing, homely house beat. Perfectly melodic, almost evoking a nostalgic, funky lullaby type vibe. Things then begin to mutate, breaking down into a ongoing, spiralling build up to what, in layman’s terms, becomes a ‘riddim’. I honestly can’t wait to hear this out and it’s definitely one for the record bag! The track is essentially broken down into thirds, the third repeating the first and on second hearing really shouldn’t work. But it does.
‘Do It’ steps into a realm of intensity, with the vocal repetition of ‘I’m I’m Doin’ Doin’ Good Good Good Yeah’ which, like the last, carries an appealing level of arrogance to it, exhibiting DVA’s grasp of creating an atmosphere. There’s a noticeable perception of movement within the structure of the track that not only resonates throughout ‘Do It’ but the whole EP, in its entirety.
Treading on similar lines, ‘Walk It Out’ maintains a rhythmic, minimal thump, exercising a rolling progression that sounds something like Duke Dumont making techno.
‘Long Street’ featuring Big Space stands out as a straight roller, very indulging and nicely progressive. It’s hard to become bored with the majority of tracks on ‘Fly Juice’ and ‘Long Street’ demonstrates this amiably. Leon has an ability to keep club music creative, moving and interesting, something that exemplifies a producer on point.
I may as well mention ‘Shook’ actually got me shook the first time I heard it, which I suppose was the intention. Faint, eerie samples make for an evil opening, breaking into a deep, moody bassline. Still maintaining a funky vibe through the drum arrangement, the track progresses to an attack of electro hounds, a ‘barking’ sample I’m told was on one of the earlier drum machines, that DVA may have used and manipulated. Added synth stabs and a low frequency wind make for a solid tune.
The second collaboration on the EP, ‘Rumours’ featuring Inga Copeland, didn’t really hit the nerve achieved by the previous for me. I imagine played out it’ll take on a different energy but, bar maybe the final third, I wasn’t fully taken by the tune. Copeland does have an interesting voice and it does sit nicely, echoing in the background behind a scattered, dub-like afro-beat. A standard level of complexity and structure is preserved and it’s not necessarily a ‘bad’ track but something was missing for me on ‘Rumours’.
The French Fries remix of ‘Ganja’ makes me happy after a little toot and made me draw out a stupidly gully gun finger, one time. It’s a solid remix of Scratcha’s grimey original, retaining the same degree of authenticity with an added level of depth to a sliding whistle that moves throughout a funky drum pattern. It’s a good tune, updated.
Having not heard many of DVA’s releases, nothing prior to the Madness/Polyphonic Dreams single, I have to say ‘Fly Juice’ impressed me and subsequently lead to a bit of back tracking on Smart’s existing catalogue. It’s more than likely we’ll be hearing a lot of ‘Fly Juice’ poured out this year and into 2013.
‘Fly Juice’ EP is out now via Hyperdub Records