Dance music in this fine city of mine has possibly never been in as good a place as it is right now. On our left we’ve got the Parachute youth gang bringing out the bliss vibes, on the right our man Frames is dropping kickass edits and every weekend there’s an even bigger and better party going down that we haul ourselves along to (or at least try to), usually run by the two gentlemen I’m going to be talking about today. Softwar have honestly been behind the decks for so long and I’ve been digging on their deep house vibe for as much time that I always believed they’d released hundreds and thousands of singles and remixes that I simply hadn’t had the time to get across. Which is why when I found out that This Time Around was their first official non-remix release through Future Classic (home to such One A Day luminaries as Flume, Flight Facilities and New Navy and tourers of Whitest Boy Alive and Sebastien Tellier) I promptly lost my shit and listened to it a hundred million times.
My friend and sage Michael who I frequently take advice from on all things zeitgeist sent me the way of Softwar’s EP with the precondition ‘listen to tracks 1 and 3.’ The second of those recommendations comes in the form of ‘Taken Liberty’, a song that has the same kind of weekend-is-calling-you pull as Julio Bashmore and various other hedonistic bangers, but is special enough to warrant it’s own mention. This may be because it subscribes faithfully to the good old tenets of piano-house; namely, that there is lots of piano, it pounds away on a loop and is supplemented by other tinkling synthesised nuggets at appropriate intervals. While it’s perhaps the cheesiest of all the delineations of four to the floor dance numbers, it has a warm edge to it that you just don’t get from harsh electronics and slamming snares. Yeah, it’s a really good time, but everything about it is well thought out and tasteful, from the drum production through to the timbre of the bass line. It’s also utterly likely that I used that last descriptor in the wrong context. I am vibing that hard right now.
Much has been made of ‘the drop’ in recent pieces I’ve read on electronic music, particularly a phenomenal one by Neil Strauss on what it’s like to hang out with Skrillex and another one from The Guardian on Swedish House Mafia. While both those acts serve up entirely different styles of music, the way that they execute to big reveal, or the dropping of the curtain so to speak, says a lot about the way that they write. Skrilly is all about the bass, the Mafia concentrate on the noise, pushing through as many layers as possible once the time is right. By contrast, Jeremy and Myles from Softwar are in absolutely no rush. The extra elements of their music enter and innocuously as they leave, creating a dance number that is at once party-ready but also, to my mind, inherently more musical. It’s theme and variation as compared to the soft-loud dynamic, but it seems more fulfilling in the long run. It allows you to focus more on the subtle reworkings they’re doing to the phased hi-hats, the way they creep the piano in on loop rather than smacking you with it straight out, and the way the song develops into this little vehicle of sunshine that is over too soon even when it’s at nearly seven minutes in length. It’s the ’80s, it’s the ’90s. it’s now. I’m dressing in everything and heading for the club. Bring your Casio and meet me at the door.
Softwar – ‘Taken Liberty’