Wave Dweller - Wish I Were There
23 August 2015 (Wave Dweller Music)
Part travelogue of a gentleman drifter, part dream sequence where head and heart are locked in a tumultuous struggle, Wave Dweller’s ‘Wish I Were There’ is a chillout album conjuring cockle-warming magic from bygone times of courtships and etiquette. Mark Newton has never been one to settle into a singular groove however, joining charming downtime with breakout moments of disparate energy and taking on a free spirited persona bordering on olde time chic. It’s compact running time suggests a short-lived holiday romance, but Newton has chronicled a relationship that’ll show you its best moves before moving in for a warm and fuzzy bear hug that’s hard to break from.
The picture postcard sceneries and titular signposts are initially conceived in dry ice from a far flung galaxy, with the RJD2-ish electro-pop fire anchored by a lone soul warrior asking ‘A Million Questions’. Not exactly setting out the album’s stall, it does uphold the protagonist’s respected versatility later to be found holding court in local discotheques. Newton gets his holiday groove on and widens the width of his flares with glitterball good timers ‘Distant Voyage’ and ‘Summer’s Day’, mixing up modern French touch and fun-loving fevers of the night.
Where the album comes into its own is with its slowed jazz sophistication and courtesy, evolving from 2012’s ‘Switchcraft’. ‘Deja Vu’, featuring Craig Yamey, is all nonchalance and aperitifs from the quintessential backstreet hangout, and is the embryo for comfortable electronic chameleonism that brings to mind the best of Groove Armada, Fila Brazillia, Nightmares on Wax, The Avalanches, J/S/T/A/R/S et al. ‘Friendships in the Night’ is all riverside walks under parasols – a sweeter, more twinkling ditty you couldn’t wish for, again with a vocal with medals around its neck for winning at life. Step outside, because summertime’s in bloom, where flutes and keys dance to the flight of a bumblebee and horns set the bandstand swaying. The delight of whimsy with the sun on its back doesn’t let slip Newton’s coolness of pose from behind tinted glasses.
The pervading organic make-up of the project, projecting a base of warmth below a light froth of keys and rhythm, is never better illustrated than on ‘Straight and Narrow’: instrumentalism for when the After Eights come into play, funk for the road trip home, or the moment of clarity when a wise thinker pipes up ‘all back to mine’. And while his impudence has largely passed, there’s still a twinkle to the Dweller’s ear with the three-legged jazz step of ‘Whatever You Want’, a honeyed back and forth trying to keep its B-Boy appetite that winked at you on ‘Amusements’ at bay. ‘Battlefield’ is another twist in the tale, a pacy thigh-slapper of joyriding, super twangy rustic funk – almost as if the past sweet nothings have gone out the window once news of a hoedown has gotten around.
‘Love Ain’t Been Clear’ and the supreme appropriateness of a track called ‘Casablanca’, starring Aurora Lee as flapper girl, convincingly play the hopeless romantic, waltzing with song and hope while Newton works 33s at 45, and makes bump head-nodders ducking from a rain of Cupid’s arrows. Certainly you’ll be asking for rewinds – just let Sam know. Conceived with and dedicated to heart and soul and the art of merging samples and musicianship, ‘Wish I Were There’ – a title that quickly frames listener reaction - is easy access to daydreams and flashbacks, walking with head in the clouds but not failed by feet finding the dancefloor when it needs to.
Wave Dweller - Amusements
12 May 2013 (Wave Dweller Music)
Roll up, roll up and step on to Wave Dweller’s dock rocker. Mark Newton, whose past discography has had him remixing DJ Shadow and pundits comparing him to b-boy big toppers and mix-and-mash protagonists such as Mr Scruff, DJ Yoda and The Go! Team, lifts the curtain on a 14-track, 15 minute chop shop of hip-hop-leaning instrumentals chewing on candy floss and head nodding, semi-surreal beats with the ambidextrous producer’s requisite funking up the fun and vice versa. You are here for his ‘Amusements,’ and this is the payout.
After working his own brand of smart casual clubbing and roaring 40s nimbleness exuding ‘Switchcraft’ and imploring you to ‘Follow the Light’ as per the chilled funhouse/cucumber-cool lounge cosmos it whimsically circles, peering through ‘The Smokeout’ sees Newton with a spring in his step, the sunshine on his back and turntables that might wobble, but won’t fall down. The pick and mix of ‘Amusements’, in the best traditions of the ‘How to Cut n Paste’ series and Osymyso’s ‘The Art of Flipping Channels’, is tempered somewhat when Mobb Deep’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ just creeps into view on the grainy black and white gramophone tinkler ‘Walk With Me’. Treating the QBC as a sneaky foreign exchange, Havoc and Prodigy are also felt glowering on the fringes when ‘That Red Mist’ descends, helping give the mix a temporary taste of dejection.
But as beats and titbits get chopped, shook up and stirred so they tumble into one another, Wave Dweller finds himself hitting the disco in a big way through the back door on ‘Solitaire’. Once his rhythm sticks have taken a bashing, he then drinks up in the last chance saloon where it becomes pleasingly unclear as to the positioning of his full stops. Quirky without being outlandish, ‘Attractions’ throws ears off course when you think you’ve got to grips with the set’s foundations, sometimes switching plots and lines within separate acts, and comes over giddily without passing on the nauseous side effects (despite ‘Listen in the Dark’ loosening nuts and bolts in a bid to knot your stomach), revolving like a sedately paced fairground ride with just enough fast left turns to whiten your knuckles to.
Splicing up loops and samples into a small but perfectly formed treasure trove of cinematic vox pops, horror flick reservations, dust-gathering 45s, going Pinky and Perky on The Moody Blues as ‘For The Journey’ bids farewell, and snappy/snapping rap soundbites, the Dweller chisels out AM radio cameos and music hall vignettes, giving love songs a lick of kitsch, and where a jazzy tipping of a top hat is evident amidst drowsy downtime. All housed in a pop up shop full of second hand smoke and treasures.
Doing kitchen sink beats without the clutter, it’s a musically astute amalgamation, not found complicating or casting itself in blink-or-you’ll-miss-it crazy paving. The attractions are plentiful and always good fun, laying down both lino and red carpet, changing outfits from flowered up to 80s retro, and able to kick back when not gambolling down the promenade.
Wave Dweller - Switchcraft
22 October 2012 (Wave Dweller Music)
Mark Newton returns with a download of cut n paste characters that carry over from last year’s Rat Race, with a cunning style putting in work when you think he’s not taking anything seriously. With much of Past Forward running in the opposite direction and confusing funk and jazz scores like The Go! Team not knowing whether they’re coming or going, Wave Dweller works in no end of end of the pier cheeky chappiness. Kooky, but also more sensible than the blueprint deems, and the same can be said for Work Play Relay; an 8-bit platformer told to rest in the corner and take a load off, hatching something of an oxymoron where chip music piles up the points in easygoing, almost wallpapered head-nodding. It livens up the bland and conversely brings the manic comfortably down to earth.
Relaxed B-boy instrumental Components Knitted Like Wool, with a horned spring in its step and a sample in its heart – namely American radio idents and jabbering chipmunks - is the sound of leaving work in short sleeves and with only the ice cream van in mind. Green Eyed Domino is the result of Mr Whippy stomach rot: an unexpectedly unhappy dip into the dark after such a sunny smile, narrated by samples mixing up early Vadim, old wives tales and frontier psychiatry. Watch your step with this one.
At this point you’re thinking Newton has definitely got some hip-hop beatage in him, but can he leave the reliance on samples alone? Well yes and no, with Leaves a level-headed guitar-looped step off the stoop that, though featuring a vocal raid (bringing to mind Jehst’s 'Bluebells'), is more about the shipshape, end-of-the-day instrumental. Climb into your favourite chair, plonk it under a sunshade, and let the smoke settle.
Wave Dweller - Rat Race
1 July 2011 (Elliptic Records)
Suave jazz-house optimism, full of sample silliness and easygoing attitude that eventually gives in to turntable high jinks
For those that struggle to get out of bed of a morning, here’s something to have you floating out of the duvet and down the stairs into a summery fantasy. Jazzy half-paced house from Wave Dweller’s Mark Newton, well named in occupying hazy margins wondering what The Go! Team would sound like with housier headphones and a deckchair, has Penny for the Well unpacking quirkiness in the form of vocal loops pulled from a gramophone and filtered Gallic sunshine reminding of a time when the loop of a good-sized twang used to instantly put dancefloors in good spirits. Either as a pleasing galvaniser, or call for time at the bar, Newton’s theory starts as a toe-tap, before a romanticised energy starts gravitating its way through your entire body.
Just as fresh is Rat Race, a geed up, tightly coiled jazz houser coming live and direct with a guitar line citing a mature strand of getting down. Aimed at the wrong ears and this’ll come off as smugly bland, a kind of coffee table house marginally missing out the part where it starts parties in hotel lifts and lobbies.
Thankfully it develops a sense of fun – bottle-plinking percussion, more sample-babble, for a half and half of debonair and child’s play - that’s not quite as cheeky as the likes of Mr Scruff’s Get a Move On, but can get a serious round of grooving going on contact, strong enough to stand up on its own two feet if you initially think a vocal could do with testing its cool a little more.
Jazz Hands is definitely on some DJ Yoda/Scruff biz (there’s definitely a smell of fish in the air), with horns turning in unnatural turntable revolutions and the Dweller giving in to his inner kid as he prances round the ballroom. All-out wacky, in a hip-hop instrumental demonstrating his past times in vinyl rummages.
Wave Dweller - Rat Race
1 July 2011 (Elliptic Records)
Modern Jazz of the 50’s!
Rat Race - this song starts off with a guitar being played and then some nice accompanied bass is being played with some high hats. There is also a dance drum beat being played. Then the mood changes and that is accomplished through the trumpet. Then there is also a vocal effect being looped that brings the listener not only dancing, but also into a trance.
Jazz Hands - the song starts of with a looped brass effect. This sounds like from a movie in the 50’s. Then the drums come in and everything sounds different again. Then there is a change in the drum beat and some nice piano chords are being played. The whole song plays some nice Jazzy sampled tunes. Everything is really nice and the listener is taken on a journey through time.
Penny For The Well - starts of with a nice beat that is being accompanied with a rhythmic guitar. Then the song gets a trumpet. This is a really Jazzy dance song, that gets the listener dancing in a way that is far beyond any dimension on Earth.