By Greg Salter
In amongst the huge, ever-mutating world of dance and electronic music, Montreal producer Jacques Greene has spent the last couple of years distinguishing himself and winning fans. Tracks like infectious ‘(Baby I Don’t Know) What You Want’, the Brandy-sampling ‘The Look’ (released at a point when not everyone was sampling Brandy), and the storming ‘Another Girl’ took up elements that had been bubbling through the underground and gave them a crisp, luminous sheen. More recently, he stood out from a fairly strong crowd on Radiohead’s remix album, contributed productions to Azealia Bank’s new material, and moved closer to R&B with his Concealer EP, released earlier this year on his own Vase imprint.
The tracks on Greene’s latest release, Ready – two of them, plus one digital exclusive – represent a further shift in his sound, and they’re perhaps his most thrilling and most consistent yet. Arriving on Dutchman Martyn’s 3204 label, it sees Greene step into slightly murkier territory than usual, shaking off the more obvious vocal samples of past material for clipped beats and warped voices that have had more than a few people drawing comparisons with Burial. Funnily enough though, Greene remains firmly in the house territory that Burial himself has been dabbling in with his recent EPs. Comparisons are fairly useless with Ready however, as this EP, rather than seeing Greene replicate the sound of others, finds him sounding more exciting and unique than ever before.
The opener and EP title track is a brilliant exercise in contrasts – its mournful vocal sample suggests you’re going to hear something fairly downtempo, before a driving 4/4 beat picks things up and refuses to let go. It sounds sad, vast, empty, euphoric and soulful all at once, a happy retort to anyone who thinks that electronic music can’t deal in ambiguity – ‘Ready’ hits you right in the heart while still pulling your limbs into movement. Elsewhere, ‘Prism’ is sultry and distant all at once, full of a tension that never quite dissipates. It’s got this house bounce and brittle techno textures that come together nicely, but not in a clichéd or predictable way – testament to Greene’s skill as a producer.
The digital exclusive ‘Dakou’ is worth investigating too – the ghosts of UKG are buried under layers of beautiful synths that morph as the track progresses. If anything, ‘Dakou’ seems to expand in and out, filling up and emptying out like a pair of lungs. It’s an emotive and strong way to end an EP that sees Jacques Greene still developing, and still making gorgeous music.