Rick Wade: Strong Arm
RYMD Records

Any new material by Detroit legend Rick Wade, whose 2008 Yore full-length The Good, the Bad, and the Deep remains a textura favourite, is cause for celebration in these parts, even if it amounts to two tracks only. Issued on London-based RYMD, the release, available in twelve-inch coloured vinyl (300 copies) and digital formats, backs two prototypical Wade cuts with remixes by Berlin producer and 12 Records owner Deep88 and London producer Emotion.

Part of what makes Wade's music so appealing is that he goes his own way, indifferent to trends and paying little attention to what's currently fashionable. A funky deep house roller such as “Strong Arm,” which lithely lunges from the gate with string stabs and a stoked bass line leading the charge, could just as easily have lit up a disco thirty years ago as fill a club floor in 2015. Wade slows the BPM ever so slightly during the aptly named “Funkopolis” to allow its starlit, Rhodes- and horns-accented groove to sparkle ever more radiantly, resulting in a swoon-worthy jam sprinkled with smooth jazz swing and bass-pulsing funk.

Under his expert guidance, Wade's breezy music unspools so effortlessly, the B-side material can't help but seem secondary, though there's still much to be said for the remixers' efforts. In an admirable exercise in refined moodscaping, Deep88 strips “Strong Arm” to its essence and then sweetens its attack with handclaps, elongated string accents, bright synth textures, and a jaunty rhythm pattern, after which Emotion peels back the sleek surface of “Funkopolis” in his “One Take Jam Edit” to reveal the raw heart beating at the original's earthy core. Both are perfectly credible treatments, but it's the Wade cuts that are naturally the EP's primary drawing card.

September 2015