Jamie Jones: Tales From the Crypt
Crosstown Rebels

The subtitle of Jamie Jones's latest release—Lost Classics from the Vaults 2007-2012—could leave the impression that it's a grab-bag collection, an odds'n'sods affair. But even if Tracks From The Crypt lacks some of the cohesiveness of the typical full-length artist album, it's anything but a slipshod collection of second-tier cuts. In fact, it's a right excellent set from the Crosstown Rebels star, and its tunes consistently show him to be a master of the form.

Jones brings the funk from the get-go when “Somewhere” slips into its piano-driven house groove with style and grace, and the producer's arranging talents are in full display in the way the track's layers gradually accumulate. At the core of a typical Jones bodyshaker is a soulful beat pulse that never loses its rock-solid place within the overall design. In “Tonight In Tokyo,” for example, Jones locks the infectious groove into position with hi-hat sizzle and claps before adding a bubbly melody as funky counterpoint. He also instinctively knows how to fill a dancefloor, as attested to by the kind of irresistibly narcotic effect deep gems such as “Special Effect,” “Mari 2D Underground,” and “Paradise” have on the listener. As polished as his skills are, Jones isn't averse to letting a raw and sexy side come to the fore, as the rolling jams “Frequencies” and “Over Each Other” (the addition of Livia Giammaria's purr a key factor in the latter) make clear.

Jones adds contrast to the collection by including guests on a number of cuts, including Surveillance Party on the haunting “City At Night” (a late-night underground anthem if there ever was one) and Art Department on “Our Time In Liberty,” and often it's a little touch that distinguishes the material—the brooding synth chords behind the vocals during “City At Night” and the underground bass line crawling under the vocal chants of “Our Time In Liberty,” to cite two instances.

Though five years in electronic music terms is like twenty-five anywhere else as far as evolutionary change is concerned, the album's material shows little sign of wear (the sub-title's a bit of a misnomer, in fact, because the earliest cut, “The Lows,” appears to have been created in 2008). Jones knows his way around a tune alright—when to build it up, break it down, add a vocal or sample, and so on—, and he does so with such natural ease that it makes other wannabe producers look like amateurs by comparison—years of production and DJ experience will do that.

June 2012