J-Walk – Limelight Nights
Following on from the breakaway success of 2000 single “Soul Vibration”, J-Walk gave us the sonic snug of A Night on the Rocks complete with soft furnishings and low-level lighting. Fast forward a little more than a decade and producer Martin Brew returned with Off Beat, a very different proposition and one was steeped in volumes of laid-back library funk, a respectful updating of “Vespucci” by the Radiophonic Workshop’s Paddy Kingsland sealing the deal.
Now, five years on from that, we have a very different prospect again. Having stripped back his approach, Brew has returned with something more coherent; something more defined and refined; something that inhabits the hinterland between dusk and night, slinking across the cusp with style and grace.
“Aimon Tojours” kicks things off with a sound that will appeal to psych diggers with sonic references including Hildergaard Kneff and Jean-Claude Vannier, but with an identity all its own. It’s a stunning synthesis of the old and the new and prepares us for what’s to come.
The title track carries on the pre-party feel, with glissando percussive waves over the melodic undertow; it would be easy to use these elements and create something that soothes and strokes, but this is full of peaks and piques.
Among the more lively compositions, is “Hip Hop Be Bop” which comes across as an homage to a hip-hop classic (no prizes for guessing which one) and Spaghetti Westerns. It is every bit as good as that combination might suggest, and is a testament as much to Brew’s sensitivity towards his source material as it is to the wonderful inventiveness of the extras he brings.
“Steppin Out For Summer” meanwhile, is bathed in swathes of distorted lead guitar lines that fall effortlessly into place over the lilting groove that underpins it all. Except we all know it isn’t effortless, it’s hard work to make something sound so easy on the ears. The ability to rub out the working; to make the lines invisible so all we can see is the stars… that’s a mark of a great record.