Semtek: Pizza
Don't Be Afraid

Following fast on the heels of the West Acyd Shelter EP, which appeared mere months ago, comes Pizza, Benjamin Roth's latest Semtek offering on his own Don't Be Afraid imprint and the label's sixth release to date. The new release accompanies two high-quality originals with a remix treatment by DJ 3000 (Frank Juncaj), whose Detroit roots (he was born and raised in Hamtramck, Michigan, just outside of Detroit) are clearly evident in the material he contributes to the EP.

The opening track, “Pizza,” is a stylistic shape-shifter of the first degree, with Roth using its eleven-minute running time to take the tune down multiple pathways. After a slinky drum machine intro locks the groove into position, the tune takes flight and plunges down one rabbit hole after another, with a broad and colourful mix of synthetic and acoustic sounds worked in along the way. Ride cymbals, synths, and claps reinforce the track's core broken beat-funk vibe, with the snares and claps steering clear of a straightforward 4/4 feel. Roth brings in acoustic piano and live drumming to offset the silken synth and poppy percussion touches, and even sneaks in smidgen of acid before lifting the tune skyward with epic washes. Despite the endless array of twists and turns, the track never loses its sense of swing and propulsion, even during moments near the track's end when Roth strips it down to alternating episodes of drum machine beats and solo kick drums.

“Pizza” is so wide-ranging in design, the relatively direct focus of “Goons” comes as a rather welcome relief as a result. After anchoring the stepping tune with a slinky drum machine groove, Roth peppers this more straight-up original with bass thumps, clangorous effects, and sweetly cooing vocal accents. Though Roth's “Pizza” clearly gives Juncaj ample material to choose from in his DJ 3000 Remix, he makes all the right moves in underlaying the original's piano and bass synth parts with a crisp and funky house groove and sweetening it with chords as creamy as they are chunky and even an organ flourish or two. It's an irrepressiblly soulful and euphoric take on the Semtek cut, and so slick it makes one want to check out DJ 3000's own releases. Might there be a Semtek full-length in the works too? The tracks on West Acyd Shelter and Pizza suggest it would be well worth one's time.

August 2011