Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Mark E, Works 2005 – 2009

Mark E is a DJ/producer out of Birmingham, England who works in the house and disco areas and specializes in re-edits.  His work tends to feature the slow accretion and buildup of layers of musical detail until either a crescendo is reached or the song he is working with bursts forth.  Works 2005 – 2009 is just what the name implies, a selection of tracks he has made over a five year period.

Mark E has an uncanny grasp of groove.  At his best he delves deep into the heart of the rhythm and then slowly unfolds it from the inside in a way that can be captivating if you respond to this aspect of music.  As the groove unfolds subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) additions of layers and shifts of emphasis within the mix build tension and hold your interest.  This isn’t easy to do.  Many dance tracks die in a monotonous rut as aimless synth layers come and go over a hammering and largely invariant rhythm track.  With a clear focus on the groove Mark E largely avoids this problem.

Works 2005 – 2009 starts out with two killer tracks.  First up is “Sun Shadow” which is his re-edit of Labelle’s 1972 cover of Cat Steven’s classic “Moon Shadow”.  I’m unfamiliar with the Labelle cover but “Sun Shadow” doesn’t sound like anything remotely similar to the Cat Stevens tune.  It’s a driving groove fest that leads to Patti Labelle going on with some weird rap about how you couldn’t do things you usually do if you lost parts of your body as she introduces the members of the band for brief solos.  It’s beyond strange but Mark E’s groove is so delicious it can’t be resisted and when the piano drops at about the 6:30 mark it’s heaven.

The second track, “You (full vocal mix)” is Mark E’s astonishing re-edit of Diana Ross’s 1978 “You Are the One”.  It opens with a closed high hat rhythm pattern coupled with a finger snap marking the back beat and builds to Ross’s vocal.  So what’s so astonishing about that?  Ross doesn’t show up until about the 5:47 mark.  Mark E creates a rhythm-based intro that lasts for nearly six minutes and holds your attention the entire time.  When she finally arrives Ross takes command and the last two minutes is essentially a vocal crescendo with Ross reaching for the skies.  Astonishing.

The rest of the CD isn’t as successful. While all of the remaining tracks hold moments of interest they don’t have the developing structure of the first two and often come across as exercises in building, developing, and sustaining groove.  Mark E is so good at this that even when the cuts on Works 2005 – 2009 don’t quite work as independent tracks they are a rich source of ideas for anyone interested in making their own groove-oriented music.

“You (full vocal mix)” from Mark E’s Works 2005 – 2009


04/11/2010 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , ,

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