Sam Mcqueen: Wicker Park EP
Samurai Records

Sam Mcqueen's Düsseldorf-by-way-of-Chicago-and-Detroit sound gets a good workout on this three-track tribute to Chicago's Wicker Park . Mcqueen's simultaneously raw and clean material navigates unpredictable paths, with the producer opting not to settle for mimicking the styles of others but challenging himself to chart more original directions. The punchy beats that stomp and swing with dancehall-tinged syncopation in “Ezuli” trade fours with Kraftwerk-styled synth figures, while “Cosmopolitan” first drives a pummeling acoustic jazz loop into the ground, then drops into its middle some primitive synth wah-wah. At disc's end, the dreamy washes and pulsations of “Artful Dodger (Wabasia St. Mix)” come closest to revealing Mcqueen's affection for Detroit techno and practitioners like Derek May, Juan Atkins, and others. Wicker Park includes three songs only, not to mention songs of such different character, so it's difficult to get a handle on Mcqueen's style. Even so, the EP offers ample proof of his ability and innovative sensibility.

January 2007