John Talabot - FIN

A very impressive debut album.

Label: Permanent Vacation

Rating: 8

Spanish dance producer John Talabot has been making a name for himself amongst the dance community over the past few years as one of contemporary dance music’s most inventive and gifted producers. After a string of well received singles and 2011’s excellent ‘Families’ EP, not to mention remix work for The xx and Teengirl Fantasy, ‘Fin’, Talabot’s first full length, allows him to expand his sonic palette and offer up his own unique take on house music.

Talabot’s sound is rooted in deep house, the traditional four-to-the-floor beat of the house kick drum is prevalent throughout the record; however, it’s the sounds that he layers on top of this trad beat that make the record so captivating and engrossing. It is very much a dance record but there are very few club bangers here. Opening track ‘Depak Ine’ is propulsive and hypnotic, it is an evolving sound slowly drawing the listener in and the rest of the album is just as immersive.

‘Destiny’ featuring Talabot’s fellow Spanish producer Pional, adds sultry smooth vocals to the deep house mix and the mesmeric sound is magnified as the track slowly builds and drops. ‘Oro Y Sangra’ is a harder edged track punctuated by sounds of disconcerting screams, the great big hulking pulsing synth blasts dominate and it can almost be described as monolithic dance. ‘Journeys’, featuring vocals from the mysterious Ekhi, is perhaps the standout track on the whole record, the lovely warm vocals combining with a joyful and uplifting beat giving it an almost gospel quality. It is very impressive stuff.

A trend for dance producers over the last few years has been to recycle disco rhythms and sounds. This is a trend that Talabot also follows, but his subverting take on disco is anything but a mere bland retread; ‘Last Land’s thrillingly warped and disfigured string sample gives a gloriously symphonic sound to the funkiest track on the record. If anything on ‘Fin’ could be described as a dance floor filler then this euphoric piece of future disco is it.

‘Fin‘ does not always maintain those staggering highs though. ‘Estiu’, and the presciently titled ‘When The Past Was Present’ are disappointingly formulaic examples of that traditional house sound, characterised by insistent pianos and wailing diva-ish vocal samples. Fortunately, the album ends on a much more inventive and progressive note with the richly pulsing house grooves of ‘So Will Be Now’. The solemnly stark vocals of Pional are again featured here, this time cut up, sampled and chopped to give a wonderfully disorienting quality that merges effortlessly with the jittering rhythm and beat.

It is often difficult for dance producers to go from making one off tracks and remixes to producing a full coherent and lucid album, but it is a jump that John Talabot has made effortlessly. Expect him to be even more demand after this very impressive debut album.