it is apparent from the start that this one is going to be different. whoosh, crackle—and we are four to the floor. “truant” begins in a shuffle, but there’s a latent energy that’s pacing, tigerishly, underneath, on the hunt. a few minutes in, just when you wonder if an idea is stuck on a synapse, the whole thing falls off the table into stark silence. then a scratch, and a feint play by those slappish beats you thought were about to kick—fading, dead. the chimes go out. it is the longest second and a half of your life.
when the quiet ends, a beat-plus later, it does so with swagger, and you cannot not smile. muffled skittering beats get playful, mixing with a slow synth line and a simple vocal, then rearrange themselves twice over, leading to a charged, cranking vocal that rises with the bass and pushes onward.
all of this gets interrupted again and again by scratches that veer into deadness, silence, a pulled plug; the track’s continually reset and then reconstituted as it gains momentum despite its false stops. a change comes late, with a hard turn towards garage hi-hats and spacey, moody keys that feel like footsteps by a tin man in a blade runner metropolis, filtered through a bullhorn and dusted with acid rain. the last minute sees an unraveling of wobbly bass, a tempo change that is utterly undanceable, and some steel drumwork that seems to lead nowhere—and then, abruptly, that’s it.
no time to rest, though, as the twisty horn-wail that opens “rough sleeper” announces a new beginning. the organ comes in, and the first few minutes have the air of a prodigy mugging for the crowd with one hand tied behind his back, attention half-paid—this is just too easy. a woodblock shuffle and an enigmatic and sweet and perfectly clipped vocal together display the nonchalance that is the special laquer of a house jam, but this time, it’s amplified and exaggerated and perfected.
the horn that follows is when we get serious. the themes introduced in the first two minutes briefly coalesce, fall apart, and reunite as the vocal sends us forward, pleading with the shuffly beat, horns alternately teasing and pushing—he shows us those can mean the same thing—the synth breathing heavily and vying for your heart. from here on out he’s just blowing on the embers, stringing out the pieces with alternating emphases. but behind it all, that skittery pattern gives shape to something firmly epic even while half-unborn. bells add to the shambling brilliance of the mix, bouncing off the snares and calling the second half of the track to arms. a brief momentary regroup, and then everything we’ve just met— vocals, bells, drums, whispering shuffles—melts together into a sweet, enveloping valley, one that here must stand in for a peak.
but this guy saves the best for last. the most honeyed melody of the vinyl’s two sides sneaks up on you, coming in behind classically burial knife-beats, seducing even while threatening. the synths sing through gritted teeth as the steel flashes and sparks from a crazy-eyed menace. the last minute is a garage-soaked rush into a new idea, ascending beats that sound like they are ricocheting off canyon walls. and then it ends, without warning, without remorse.
these are the ketamined wanderings of house music through a run of dank, deep caves. this is dance music for insomniacs ambling through the mountains of skyscrapered urbanity. this is, truly, genius beat- and melody-making, simultaneously deconstructed and resurrected, daring you to resist and punishing you with deadness precisely when you succumb, toying with you, promising a payoff that never surfaces but can only come from your brain’s reassembling—minutes and hours and days and weeks later—of the singular mess of urban dance lullabies that only this man can conjure on wax.