Bloc Weekend Warmup One — Jacques Greene
Jacques Greene is, in addition to maple syrup and a funny way of saying “about,” perhaps Canada’s most important cultural export (sorry, Shatner). And he’s coming to Bloc Weekend this July!
He’s one of the fastest rising stars in the world of house music, and rightly so, because he’s managed to be inventive in a music culture that has engaged increasingly with mathematical perfectionism and stark minimalism.
While so much cutting edge house is ominous, introspective, and slightly ironic, filling those ‘in-the-know’ with a slight sense of “all those deadmau-five people would never understand such complex polyrhythms” superiority, it has, unwittingly, lost its soul both metaphorically, and, in terms of a jarring disconnection with its roots in Soul music, literally.
Listening to cutting edge compositions (and they ARE compositions), we are wowed with the level complexity the producer is able to achieve while maintaining a healthy respect for the space between the notes, but are we so far gone from the days of Frankie Knuckles, R&B, and Soul, that house is something to be engineered rather than felt?
This is why I love Jacques Greene. Jacques Greene suggests that house has not lost its soul, but merely mislaid it, as one might do with the television remote between the sofa cushions.
His offerings, such as Another Girl, Arrow, and The Look, represent a triumphal brandishing of that long-lost remote, and finally, we can finally turn the channel and stop watching that re-run of Bob Barker era “Price is Right.”
You can compare Greene’s affinity for R&B vocals, and his proclivity for stretching, phasing, and manipulating them into House to the idea of a ghost in the shell, a robot with a soul. Of course, the instrumental is rational, balanced, and mathematical, but the vocal reaching up to an emotional, soulful crescendo on top turns the whole affair into something much more than its constituent beeps and boops.
That’s not to say it works one hundred percent of the time — only Sex Panther cologne can claim that high honour (well, 60% of the time it can claim that high honour) — as in Flatline, where Greene tried to make the leap from using R&B to make soulful-yet-minimal House to making R&B full stop. Flatline, and I condemn it with one horrible pun, fell rather flat. Line. Ahem.
That said, though, listening to Greene’s recent releases on Martyn’s 3024 label, such as the song Prism, you can hear that he is learning how to evolve, and what elements of his style are fundamental, and what elements he can change. He has learned, I think, that he can stand a little dirtying up, and that he lives at 128 BPM, and oughtn’t slow down.
It is for this reason, that he knows how to evolve to bring his unique ghost to yet more shells, that I am terribly excited to see Mr. Greene this Bloc Weekend.