Format: 2×12″/digital / Label: Kontra-Musik
Jason Fine isn’t a name I was familiar with until very recently, despite him releasing his debut EP on Omar-S’s consistently brilliant FXHE Records.
A young house producer from Michigan, his sound looks to the golden years of Chicagoan club music, full of yearning melody and with an electro-influenced bulbousness that invites comparison with Mr Fingers, Virgo et al. In the era of rigidly quantised, precision-tooled production, the live, unsequenced feel of Fine’s drum and synth programming is as bracing as a smack on the chops.
It’s ironic that a record with such a determinedly retro aesthetic is entitled Future Thought, but in looking to the past for inspiration Fine reconnects with a feeling of curiosity, expectation and longing for what’s to come that was de rigeur in 80s and early 90s techno, but which has been all but absent in the contemporary era. It’s basically old-school futurism – that ol’ oxymoronic chestnut – and in the main it bears excellent dividends for the ears.
‘Amplitude Modulation’ sets the tone: plaintive pads, skippy 909 percussion and a warm, driving bassline that’s also the melodic focus of the track. The excellent ‘Broken Home’ and ‘Nutella’ recall Drexciyan electro at its most fluffy and ethereal (Neptune’s Lair or Lifestyles of The Laptop Cafe) but for me the album’s towering highlight is ‘Process Three’, a sublimely crunchy twilight box jam that sounds like a less distant, less oblique Legowelt.
Ringing fresh life out of tried and tested tropes, Future Thought is undoubtedly among the best house albums to be released in 2009, though the amount of credible competition is, if you ask me, negligible. Really, it’s an album that stands out on its own merits, achieving timelessness and singularity by conveying a trowel-load of emotion with the sparest of means (and no, er, trowel). Sure it’s all been done before, but who cares when it’s such a profound pleasure to listen to?