Addison Groove (Antony Williams to his pals) has long stood out among his contemporaries, ever since 2009′s ‘Footcrab’ broke the mould by rejecting the rave nostalgia of “Purple” and the over-the-top wobble that came from both sides of the Atlantic. Instead, he went in search of new sounds, that at the same time grew from something much older, with a greater history. Of course by know you’ll realise I’m talking about juke and it’s backward glances to the history of Chicago house.
But to describe his music as just a nod the past would be dismissive; Addison Groove draws on the past without dooming himself to repeat it. Rather, he regards it as just another element in the growing pool of influences and ideas circulating since the death of dubstep. Like a select few, he saw the post-dubstep scene as a birthplace for fresh, new ideas rather than the death of something.
And this optimism shines through in his debut album. While you could be forgiven for thinking his music is downbeat, or even ambient, there’s an optimism there. There’s a story here, it’s like following the man round his favourite record shop, listening to his own take on electronic music. Though the samples are small, they connect together in a way that is both soulful and uplifting in an exemplary demonstration of the Gestalt concept “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.
Certain critics have mistakenly chastised the Bristolian for failing to producers “bangers”. But this is missing the point, the subtlety, poise and finesse of Williams’s productions. It always struck me that his shift in production from drum & bass to downtempo bass music was to avoid the throwaway “club-banger” tag, particularly when that became the currency of modern dance music. Simplicity is key, and Addison Groove has honed this minimalist technique to beautiful perfection.
One would rightly expect ‘Bad Things’, which sees Spank Rock team up with the young bass-meister for the leading single, to be as close to a banger as Addison Groove is likely to get. And you would be right; a series of rather vulgar vocal samples dance playfully over a crushing, repetitive bassline that sounds strangely familiar if you heard 2011′s ‘This Is It’ b/w ‘Make Um Bounce’ on Tectonic. Of course, “repetitive” sounds critical, but well-placed repetition (as Stewart Lee will tell you) can be rhythmically engaging, even hypnotic, and can prove to be devastatingly effective.
Ultimately, this LP owes a lot to the new school of techno producers (like everyone who has ever released on Scuba’s Hotflush) as well as the composition of the earliest acid house, electro and techno of the late eighties, adding a polished and crisp production style to the mix. It shows maturity that Williams is able to balance these contrasting elements so well without becoming self-indulgent and bloated. In short, it’s not going to change the world but it’s still a fine album indeed.