One of the things to really grab my ears recently has been the Windy City E.P. from Steve Murphy & Co. Firing out of Italy, as it seems and number of good tracks and labels are at the moment, this four track comes as the first release on Chiwax (though is via German based DBH Music from Frankfurt) on tasty looking turquoise, hand stamped vinyl. The names are an immediate nod to what you’re going to encounter, Chiwax……Windy City…….yeah, these are some honest, Chicago style, stripped back, swinging house grooves.
“Wind” opens with a vocal sample and a low down drone type sound that runs throughout, as rich and full sounding rim shots and open hats shuffle their way through a myriad of percussion mutes, and gentle organ chords, hitting so softly they could barely be called stabs. The effects on the rims accentuate their inherent wooden feel swelling the track in an deeply organic way, as vocals, drones and other percussion patterns seem to drift in and out of your consciousness.
Next track along, “What” still gives it with the shuffle, but we’re into edgier territory here as a more pronounced bass and melancholic string stabs provide a background to more frantic, clicking rims and claps, which are all broken up by an array of snares and cymbal. Once again, a vocal sample you can’t quite make out provides a hypnotic distraction as the patterns shift precisely about making your body twitch in to the beat.
When Chuck Roberts first preached to us about Jack, and how he laid down the groove, I doubt he could have imagined the impact his words would have in years to come. “Jack Is Dead” makes use of tiny samples of the speech to deadly effect in a thundering track that has all the right elements. The adjective “jack” gets a bit overused and often misused when it comes to describing music, although as this track stomps its way through an array of raw cut vocal samples and stuttered snares and claps, I’m really fighting to avoid using it. No its not a classic Chicago jack track, but I don’t think its trying to be. This has more of a developed sound to it, venturing more into the realms of Cajual and Dance Mania. In fact the whole E.P. has a more grown up feel about in terms of time period you may wish to associate it with.
“Skip to the End” offers a solid chunk of bass and simple rhythm with rolled stick work, and an overall cleaner sound to it, that carries you along to thundering tom drums, and synth brass. As the piano plays call and answer with the brass and the toms drop out, we’re once again treated to that chugging bass. It comes back sounding even better as rhythms interlace and drop to create a form of dramatic tension that leaves you wanting more until, ironically you have less as it strips its ways down to a kick drum, bass and a solitary ride cymbal to build you back up.
Maybe its that Mattia Favaretto experience of hammering rhythms and precision as a tin smith comes into play. Beating and precision are two things that normally seem to be mutually exclusive, although what this E.P. shows are basic elements working very precisely together. There is nothing too flashy and overproduced. Mattia and his musical partners Luca Segato, Marco Zanin and Mattia Boldrin (they are the & Co. element of Steve Murphy and Co.) use extremely basic kit but its not just that grit, its their attention to detail, and obvious passion for Chicago house that comes across. They focus on making things sound right and do the job they are meant to, which at the end of the day, is to make your body bump in a dark and sweaty club.
A1 – Wind. Chiwax001
A2 – What. Chiwax001
B1 – Jack Is Dead. Chiwax001
B2 – Cut To The End. Chiwax001