letherette – ep

Letherette - EP coverSome beats are to sing over, others are to lace raps on, and then there are beats that just are. Already two years old, Letherette’s EP hasn’t aged a day and still sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it. This duo from Wolverhampton (UK)’s first release drenches soulful hiphop-like vibe, without actually touching the rap-genre itself. Yeah, that’s actually possible.

 

“EP” is a collection of 8 tracks that lean on styles like neo-soul, hiphop, electronics and nu-jazz, all wrapped in a tight jacket of slick head-nodding beatness. Even on their first 12″ Letherette already display a heavy signature sound that is usually only achieved by either veterans or natural talent. This might not be obvious on the first listen, but that’s only due to the immaculate way in which the samples are cut and laced on the drums. After a couple of go-rounds you’ll find an appreciation of the incredible ear this duo has for grooves and syncopation, not to mention their cutting techniques that make these grooves possible.

 

Combine these production techniques with the deep and warm feeling the tracks emanate and you’ve a got a small pebble gem that radiates as much light as a clear-cut diamond.

 

 

Even though this is only a 17min EP it has a clear build-up, starting off with 3 contemporary hiphop/soul beat structures. Beginning with Ashtro, we are welcomed by a full and warm dusty space-age track. Over the backdrop of warm pad-like chords and shuffled drums eases a simple but hauntingly beautiful little synthesized bell melody. The little hint of sample cutting in the break prepares the listener for track two, called Dance Brace. The dark break that forms the intro sets the tone for the actual beat, which is formed by a simple drumkit that emphasizes the anxious and bombastic organ driven sample. Where the previous track was subtly getting you into the sound, this track sucks you in by simply exploding.

 

Since the banger and the deep track have already been showcased, it’s only natural to take a moment for an easy chill before going into some more experimental work. Eye To Eye is a no-nonse quarter-bar downtempo beat, reminiscing of the time when beatmakers came up as entities themselves, rather than just part of a group. Easy drums, a sweat sample including vocal bits and a bassline that’s pumped up. It’s time to ditch the hip hop groove for a second on Furth & Myre, where disco gets smashed and the beats follow suit. The sample-slicing on this track really brings out the bass-guitar and strengthens the groove of the original. Being amazing work on it’s own, it’s actually just a prelude to the track for which the EP is mostly remembered: In July Focus. On this inscrutable neck-breaker The Whispers’ You Are Number One seemingly gets slaughtered by a professional butcher on amphetamines. A track of this kind of technical prowess and melancholic value will leave any beatmaker as much in jealousy as in awe.

 

After the cut-up madness it’s time to sit back for a bit with the uptempo but soothing Cherryade, which features the best of both worlds: an electronic drumkit and a full-bar looping intensely warm sample. The little touch of saturation on the drums creates a nice synergy with the (probably 70s) easy-listening jazz sample. Obviously the Letherette guys have a perfect understanding of when to cut a sample and when to leave it intact. Before the finale of the EP we are treated to Say Yeah, a little interlude smasher in the manner of Suff Daddy’s main style. Simple but incredibly grooving drums, groovy bassline and vocal cuts all-over. The final track takes off where Cherryade left us, combining yet again the electronic feel with an analog groove. Take an almost off-grid drumkit layered with a samba percussion backbeat, drop a round bassline on it and top it off with a heavy delayed synthesizer lead. That is what The Way is, and it’s the perfect way to finish off this beautiful EP.

 

Keep an eye out for Letherette’s forthcoming November release on Ninja Tune, but until that time check your favorite webshop (i.e. Beatport) for “EP” and “EP2″. Facebook here and Twitter there, 2 examples below.