Review

Tessela

Nancy’s Pantry 12"

R&S • 2013

There are certain labels which automatically raise awareness. R&S is one of those labels – traditional on the one hand, trend-conscious on the other. Those releasing their records here will definitely get their piece of the spotlight-cake. Pitchfork will have a listen, and the rest of the crew will, too. Hence, Ed Russel aka Tessela has taken on quite a bit with his debut on the Belgian cult label. Soundwise, it’s the follow-up of his brilliant single »Hackney Parrot/Helter Skelter« and even manages to raise the bar from there. The a-side, »Nancy’s Pantry« is pulling out all the stops without coming across as overloaded, because its basis, full of rough beats, remains to be minimal. The first minute and a half are used to oil the hinges and to test the rhythmic functions. From then on, the machine runs smoothly, especially when the Britiain-born musician’s humor sets in. It’s a special kind of wit, requiring extensive knowledge of the subject: Tessela permanently plays with the listener’s expectations, based on what they’re used to. For those who only want to dance to the music, it can be extremely tiring. In »Nancy’s Pantry«, for example, there is a rave-melody setting in at half-track, while the previous beats are slowly fading out. Everyone is expecting the big drop to happen any second, and then – Gotcha! – the dry machine-beat is being picked up again and the rave is over, from one moment to the next. And so it goes. »Horizon« from the b-side trifles with another rave-element, namely the fade-in: Tessela splutters in the middle of the climax, the rhythmic framework gets tangled up but still somehow ends in an anthem-like tribute to the electronic music of the 1990s. And also »Gateaway«, full of 90s-dance-vocals, in which some sounds have a few too many bars, is nothing but fun, fun, fun.