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umami

by grayscayle

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1.
2.
I Think 04:31
3.
Bit Chest 04:52
4.
Umami 05:27
5.
6.
7.
Keep Going 04:37

about

Grayscayle officially lands on the Woodwork map with Umami, his brazen debut EP. After his strong supporting remix of The Weight of the World by Ari I.Q., here we get a solid glimpse of what this emerging producer, Jim Stiff is capable of. He also brings some heavy collaborators and remixers alongside from Winnipeg's stable of diverse production talent.

Setting up with a classic sounding tech house collaboration, 'The Beginning', Grayscayle enlists Justin Van Alphen on rhodes and percussion duty, who lays down some pensive chords and melodic phrases and crisp organic djembe playing that blends perfectly into the structured framework of bass and synths built around them. There is a balanced contrast between the calm, sophisticated chords and the urgent pace of the percussive top layers.

'I Think' immediately takes things into quirky territory. Its dark house pulse serves an onslaught of techy, stretched out synths. Some low-down stabs push their way through skippy vocal hits and rough primal beats.

'Bit Chest' leans more into minimal techno in its stark mood and style. Short, direct and to the point, a tight collection of odd hits and atmospheres create an interesting space for clockwork rhythms and reverberant clanks.

'Umami' seems to summarize what we've heard so far, bringing the various styles together. Some of the elements are direct and straightforward - a pitched down vocal and some classic techno pads... but Grayscayle accents this with elastic synth effects, unruly subs, steamy atmospheric sounds and that ever skittish top layer.

In remix territory, first we have 'Bit Chest' revised by Ari I.Q. who brings some thoroughly deep techy breaks business. A stunning intro slowly builds drawing inward around a deep breathing noise layer. We hardly notice becoming engulfed in energetic hats and breaks that fall somewhere between trap, electro and techno. Meditative and melancholy chordal waves persist throughout, giving the entire track a vital emotional element.

Then 'I Think' gets a makeover by Qube. This one gets a clever fade in from a highway traffic backdrop, before unloading cascades of punchy percussive layers. Some dark progressive elements emerge and develop, as the bass transforms through various stages of what almost feels like pulsing synthwave, though a faint house feel remains intact with those familiar vocal hits. The track winds down dramatically leaving us again in highway traffic sounds after a brief reprise of an altered bass groove. A proper journey, this...

The Bandcamp release also includes a bonus track. 'Keep Going' is Grayscayle in his abstract element. Some very unusual beat structures and abrasive fragments of glitched up sounds crack through the fabric of a dark absurd hip hop feel. Nothing is in or out of place here, it all just is... and the statement is perhaps both profound and ambiguous.

credits

released June 30, 2020

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about

grayscayle Winnipeg, Manitoba

Jim Stiff aka Grayscayle is a Winnipeg based producer/ DJ bringing an eclectic range of vibes and musical styles into his original music and Dj sets. With roots in drum and bass but also exploring house music, dub techno and ambient.

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