Nuage: Prints of You

Listening to Prints of You, it's rather hard to believe that St. Petersburg-based producer Nuage (Dmitry Kuzmin) was known for his drum'n'bass productions not all that long ago. Little of that style appears on the fifteen-track long-player, which embraces a deep house style above all others (the vinyl version of the release includes two album-only exclusives: remixes by Ital Tek and Silent Dust of the title track and “Sunday Morning,” respectively).

That the seventy-eight-minute album begins in downtempo mode with the understated vocal ballad “Colors” is merely the first surprise. That intro's serene vibe carries over into the title track, its smooth, 136-bpm sheen now embellished with hints of garage, funk, and deep house. The latter emerges specifically in the soulful female vocal Kuzmin drapes across the tune's silken surfaces, which the producer also sweetens with kalimbas and synth washes. The album's effervescent deep house character surfaces often, within tracks such as “Your Words,” “Turn East,” and “Overseas,” for instance.

Though many things characterize Nuage's sound, there's one thing that perhaps stands out more than anything else: his talent for arrangement, specifically the ear-catching way he stitches samples, vocal snippets, vinyl crackle, synth and Rhodes phrases, strings, and other sounds into arresting melodic sequences, and with one sound rapidly followed by another, the listener is at times left dizzied by a particular track. Often it's the vocal constructions that make the strongest impression, such as the way Kuzmin works slices of (what sounds like) Annie Lennox's voice into a funky vocal line within “Keep Me Warm,” for example. In other places, a guest vocalist delivers a performance that's left in its natural state, such as when Ellie contributes a Rihanna-like vocal to the dramatic closing ballad “Promises.” Kuzmin also has a gift for melody, haunting examples of which elevate a great many of the album's tracks, and his serenades swing, too.

Though one must look hard to find a weak moment on the album, certain tracks do stand out as particularly strong. “Slow Moves,” featuring contributions from Gerwin, is one of Prints of You's more melodically ravishing pieces, whereas “Indigo Girl,” a delicious, crackle-drenched fusion of soul and deep house, provides one of the disc's more infectious dance-floor moments. Prints of You repeatedly shows that if there's one word to describe Nuage's music, it's seductive.

November 2014