'I keep on wondering/What I'm gonna do without you...'
Even in a month that’s shaping up to have been one of the best this year for dubstep releases (since the start of July there have been essential new ones from Untold, Digital Mystikz, Joker, 2562 and two killer 12”s from Brackles, and this week the latest Hyperdub and Hessle Audio plates have surfaced) the long awaited white label release of Kevin McAuley’s ‘Memories’ stands out as a cut above the rest. It seems to have been around forever – on his MySpace player since the start of the year and a stalwart in sets from any DJ to manage to get hold of a copy – but ubiquity has done little to dull its impact. Finally managing to get hold of a copy on wax feels like a triumph; it’s a tune that deserves the warmth of vinyl, infused with a delicate longing and wistful nostalgia that extends far beyond the dancefloor.
Whilst Pangaea’s release earlier this year on Hotflush was of a more minimalist, experimental bent, ‘Memories’ is very much a spiritual follow up to last year’s sublime Hessle Audio release ‘You & I/Router’. His knack for taking a stripped down approach to production with the fewest possible elements yet wringing from them every last possible drop of energy and vitality has drawn somewhat misleading comparisons with Burial – yet skilful vocal editing aside, the difference could not be greater. Whilst Burial’s production is shadowy and fragile, so drenched in memory and invested emotion that even through a huge system his tracks come across as delicate and intangible, McAuley’s is tougher and more infinitely more danceable, as high-energy garage beats and sub-bass are woven inseparably to an ethereal repeated vocal melody. The effect is mesmeric, exploring the gradual build, peak, euphoria and final comedown of a night out as tension increases from the ghostly opening lines until a glorious string harmony entwines and loops to fade, leaving a warming afterglow in its dissociation. The second drop feels less of an upper; more the placidity of reaching the other side, as your mind gradually settles yet the music still exerts an irresistible pull on your body.