By Brien Ferguson
Still not quite recovered from a wonderfully exhausting weekend festival gig in the local foothills, I get an unexpected and slightly desperate email from a friend. Can I, my friend pleads, bang out a couple of reviews on the quick? I gotta admit that as much as I respect and love this guy, I felt immediate trepidation; I was still tired from the party and I just got out from under another heavy deadline and I've been smoking fistfuls some crazy, hazy pot (White Rhino, for you in the know) so my head and my body aren't feeling quite connected... you know. But there's “$$$” involved, he none too subtly points out. Of course, all trepidation then flies straight out the freaking window and I quickly accept. It's not like I'm obviously stupid or something.
Surprisingly to me, everything was going smoothly – the first EP resonated with me and was a pleasure to dissect, the descriptors seemed to come easily (I had switched-up, too, to smoking a fairly sleepy strain evidently called “ICE!” or something) and I was very much looking forward to cracking open the second release, the forthcoming tech single from my latest super-favourite BFF of up-and-coming labels, Nude Photo Music out of Portland, Oregon. And to make the whole honey-pot even sweeter, it turns out that the single is “Two Trains Running”, the first solo release by label boss Gustavo Lanzas aka Audioelectronic, along with remixes by the impressive triad of San Francisco's DJ Caltrop, Chris Firenze of Akashik records and David “Brun” Brown of Swayzak! At this point, even memories of former trepidation turn into straight-up glee and I set to the record.
It's great. Plain and simple. All of the mixes demonstrate what I love about Nude Photo: masterful production values, layers and layers of lush textures, relaxed grooves and spacious atmospheres. The tracks moved me and engaged me but at some pre-conscious level that I couldn't find the specific words for. And not finding the words doesn't quite cut it for music reviews.
I started sweating it. Time was growing short and I hadn't put down a single letter. I really wanted to do a great job for my friend. I wanted to do right by the music. I wanted to smoke more of whatever was in that joint. Hours were passing fruitlessly. I'd hit a wall and frankly, began to panic.
And just when I felt like throwing in the towel, IT comes to me... this is a great track exactly because it does affect something more primal than stupid ol' language. Certainly, the technically adept creation of space and motion in the collection is noteworthy but this feeling of standing still as the world rushes and soars by, this mutable subtext, this deliciously gauzy platform – these are more difficult yet more vital to convey.
As far as specifics go, I can tell you this – the original mix sets us up with a simple, mournful bass that somehow becomes slightly sexy (in fact, all of the tracks have a little bit of Barry White power in 'em) and spacious percussive and vocal accents. Brun' s Duhb doesn't stray far from the original script but presents the material on a less familiar, more psychedelic landscape (It goes amazingly well with this Blue Dream, a particularly potent strain of Sativa.) Caltrop's effort is sunshine – pure, freaking bubble wands and skinny-dipping and afternoon shit-faced drunk kinda sunshine. Chris Firenze's mix is A MIGHTY DANCEFLOOR KILLER. Expect a lot of play from this one over the summer’s big sound systems – with its pounding kick and complex web of organic and machine counter-rhythms, it's the template for a perfect techno banger.
So, there you go. I love “Two Trains Running” and I love Nude Photo and this is why.