A Little Orchestra

Big Deal
Daniel Blinkhorn
Chartier & Novak
Yannick Dauby
Different Marks
Marcel Fengler
Luca Forcucci
Stafrænn Hákon
A Little Orchestra
Koen Lybaert
Mercy Giants
Lorenzo Montanà
Moss Project
North Atlantic Drift
Lasse-Marc Riek
Franck Roger
May Roosevelt
Mathieu Ruhlmann
Sankt Otten
Saburo Ubukata

Compilations / Mixes
Carl Craig
Poolside Sounds Vol II
Radio Slave
The Return
Token Introspective
Totally E. Extinct Dinosaurs

EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Mampi Swift
Negative Gemini
Andy Vaz

Different Marks: Untitled
Pets Recordings

The only thing arguably unfinished about this collaborative project between Martin Dawson (King Roc, Two Armadillos) and Grzegorz Demiañczuk and Voitek Tarañczuk (Catz N' Dogz) is the album's title. Otherwise, it's a fine collection of dance-based songcraft that unfortunately also doubles as a memorial to Dawson, who unexpectedly passed away on November 12th, 2012. It's a more than fitting tribute to his talents, however, and those involved in readying the album for release have honoured his memory in doing so.

The contributions of the three primaries receive a major boost from the presence of a large number of guest vocalists, without whom the album would be far less striking. Cari Golden's sensual turn nicely complements the soulful slink of “Shiny Pennies,” and things take an even more soulful turn when Paul Randolph adds his croon to “Lavender Lady” (there's even a subtle wink to Billy Paul's 1972 hit “Me and Mrs. Jones” in the lyrics). As an indication of how contrasting the album sometimes is, Ben Westbeech's delicate vocals on “Can't Figure Me Out” make the song feel a tad reminiscent of King Midas Sound and the fragile singing of Roger Robinson, while James Yuill's singing on the synth-driven “Motor Stepper” more suggests the influence of Depeche Mode and singer Dave Gahan. Elsewhere, Tanya Horo's bright voice accentuates the dreampop feel of “We Are Young” while Nnaji contributes to the dubbed-out garage of “You Help Me.”

Lavish production values elevate the songs, with the trio sprinkling the tunes with all manner of ear candy—electronic drums, synthesizers, and the like—, and the album offers a panorama of styles, with each song exuding a slightly different feel, especially when so many different singers appear (only two of the eleven songs feature the three producers only, including the moody, late-night instrumental “Lonely in My Room”). Aggressive live drumming helps turn “If You Ask Me” into a trippy, post-rock throwdown, a funky take on house infuses the fleet-footed “Into the Night,” and acoustic guitar shadings amplify the Balearic house vibe on “To Be Without Me.” As mentioned, Untitled has dance elements aplenty, but it's more a song-based collection, with the melody-driven pieces structured along conventional verse-chorus lines; needless to say, the album's also easy to warm up to when its material is so accessible.

July 2013