Icon / Madness EP
Active since 1990 as producers and remixers, UK-based Michael Gray and Jon Pearn have issued a staggering number of singles (under multiple aliases) as well as remixes, with songs by Whitney Houston, Duran Duran, Sugarcubes, and George Michael among those tackled by the house music duo. The list of singles (including 1996's number one hit “America (I Love America)”) credited to Full Intention is staggering all by itself, as Gray and Pearn issued material regularly between 1994 and 2006 under the name (including the 2006 collection Connected: 10 Years of Full Intention). But with things having been quiet on the Full Intention front since then, the release of a new two-track, fourteen-minute single for the Italian imprint Rebirth Records arrives as somewhat of an event.
After quickly locking into its jacking groove, “Icon” takes a bit of a left turn in working a drill-like effect into the background before halting the groove's forward thrust to add an ascending three-note motif to the arrangement. Details aside, it's an effervescent thumper that glides on the smoothest of breezes and shows Gray and Pearn haven't lost a step when it comes to crafting clubby builds. Boosted by a heftier percussive design (congas, shakers), “Madness” makes for a slinkier B-side. The tune goes deeper, too, when organ tones surface to guide the material into a more melancholic zone. Adding to the cut's allure, a gospel-tinged vocal chant (“reason… soul…madness…”) appears halfway through to give the track an individuating and even epic character. The EP's material seems so effortlessly born, it's as if Full Intention's never been away.