Citizen aka. Laurence Blake returns with his unique brand of soul-infused, ambient house music after releasing his new 3 track EP Climax on 2020Vision Recordings. Having already released material on MadTech, he is a highly prolific producer, set out for yet another amazing year.
Opening the EP is the wonderfully chilling track U Don’t Know. Blake combines a punchy, hard-hitting beat with a ghostly organ motif and delicately manipulated vocals, both drenched in reverb to create an unsettling atmosphere; a perfect way to start a Citizen EP. I particularly like the filtered percussion which surreptitiously bangs away in the background adding a quirky rhythmic pattern, reminding me of Underworld’s Born Slippy for some bizarre reason; however not the last time trance resemblances are heard in the Climax EP. As the track begins to unfold, long, earth-shattering subs are brought in which rumble through you like an earthquake in the Pacific to bring you a whole new dimension. Elongated echo tails prevent an awkward space between bass hits and are complimented by a haunting lead line and shimmery hi-hats. More cleverly altered vocals start to unravel and slowly bloom into a single soulful melody, leading us into the mysterious cavern of a track, U Don’t Know.
Following such a magnificent piece of work comes As One. Again Citizen hits us with a pithy, solid kick drum accompanied by female vocal murmurs soaked in reverb for his 2nd track ‘As One’. As the bass drum plods away, bouncy percussion is bought in adding a slight spring to its step and giving it a 90’s garage feeling. This is made temporarily redundant once the bass is introduced; an almost trance like monotonous groove accompanied by the continuing vocal loop and succinct kick. Just as I began to lose interest in the track due to the lack of melody or progression, the kick disappeared and an elusive chord pad was thrown into the equation, rekindling my attention and adding a sense of uncertainty which was the ideal way to lead the listener into the drop. After 3 kicks smash their way back into the mix, As One maintains a constant energy thriving forward. Although subtle additions and diverse dynamics fuel the majority of the track, Citizen has excelled himself by including a variety of distinctive sounds including a saxophone within the record.
Climax features a more raw and refined drum sound. Although the snare is kitschy, it strangely sounds good as part of the swung, vivacious beat. Again Citizen has included his trait of transforming vocal snippets into reverberated motifs however it doesn’t seem to be as appealing or beguiling in Climax as it does the other tracks. The fact this track doesn’t have an anticipated drop is a nice touch as the ethereal atmospherics of the record are emphasised and it sets it apart from most other dance music. However it’s slower tempo, lack of melody or bass line and slow progression make it unexciting and a little dull to listen to from start to end no matter how many times you have it on repeat. Although a likeable track, in comparison to U Don’t Know and As One it doesn’t stand out as the leading record for the EP.
It’s clear to see Citizen is paving a new path in music by incorporating aspects from different genres such as soul or trance and fusing them together with a garage/house style. There is a clear structure to his music and certain qualities that are truly brilliant. With the success of his previous releases (So Submissive EP in particular), it’s no doubt that the Climax EP will prove popular for this well-respected and indisputably talented producer.