According to a survey conducted by PRS for Music, Bristol was the UK’s “most musical city” in 2010. Take a look back at its history and it’s difficult to argue otherwise. Trip Hop luminaries Portishead, Smith & Mighty and the infamous Wild Bunch – a sound system that featured Tricky and Massive Attack – propagated the “Bristol Sound” in the early 90s, but the likes of Idle Hands, Punch Drunk and Livity Sound have been keeping it alive in the 21st Century. With nine releases under its belt, the Kelly Twins-helmed Happy Skull label has proven itself another prominent exponent of high quality electronic music in the West Country, and a return for London’s Adjowa has only furthered that claim.
The Heartstrung EP marks a step into slightly more subdued territory than the majority of what had come before on the Bristolian label. The meandering melodies found on that sophomore release from Adjowa himself are still present in abundance though, as the title track clearly exhibits. Dazzling like a desert mirage, the sweeping textures are reminiscent of Jonny Nash’s Balearic expeditions. As the track gradually unfurls, new flurries of synth emerge from the haze and the oscillating bass swell grows, only adding to the hypnotic quality present throughout.
Phasers are set to stun on the flip. Laying down the reverb in hefty swathes and deploying space age electronics pulled straight out of the cosmos, ‘Sylvie Always Goes In’ is how I’d imagine it might sound if the Star Trek teleportation machine had a dancefloor. Twisting and contorting like a rubber band, the elasticated groove will have you hooked from the moment it’s introduced. We finish on ‘Penny Black’ where gorgeous, funked-out keys Harvey Sutherland would be proud of sketch a playful melody beneath a canopy of punchy drums, while the occasional wisp of synth dissipates into the ether. It’s velvety and sumptuous, like a velour shirt or a glass of vintage Burgundy Red. In fact, this one’s probably best heard wearing said shirt, glass of wine in hand.
Heartstrung is out in 12″ format on June 29th and digital on August 19th – pre-order the vinyl here.