sasha inovlved one more time.
Sasha’s new Involver record, the third and apparently final* in the series, is a very complex, beautiful album. Though thoroughly danceable, accessible and characteristically Sasha, the cutting edge element here, are the surprising use of vocals. Now, if you go back, you’ll notice that vocals are present throughout all of the Involver series, including the wonderful “Talk Amongst Yourselves” by Grand National (a lovely band in their own right) and The Engineers last collaboration ever on Involver 2, “Sometimes I Realise”. But on those records, the manipulations and profound production style that is Sasha’s trademark was on the instrumentation, the use of analog synths in Involver 2 and the freshman excitement of experimentalism found throughout the first release.
Here, as contrast, some of the most incredible moments are the subtle programming and edits of the vocals, or how they are framed in the mix, a la “Small Talk” by Ultraísta and the directly preceding “Battleships” which is a collaboration between Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka & featuring Abigail Wyles. In both cases, the mix is heavily vocal driven, the accompanying sounds- backbeat, bass and synths- providing a chassis to a thoroughly smooth overall sound emphasizing unforgettable vocal edits and melodies.
There are also lovely bits of texture in the sound, random over-washed percussion providing a cloak of dingy, forbidding darkness, as if walking though late 19th century Whitechapel on a cold fall evening.
The final theme I find most interesting is a true harking back to a house, almost disco mentality for all of the music present here. As said above, the record is very danceable, extremely club centered (and this is a very good thing), but where Airdrawndagger and even the first Involver could have been thought of as a thinking man’s album, here the emphasis is clearly on movement. And with a welcome minimalism that harks back to a fresh faced disco scene, or the early San Francisco house scene in the 90’s. Scott Hardkiss passed away only a week ago as I write this and Sasha’s latest effort seems to pay unintentional homage to this early progenitor of the modern dance music sound**
I enjoy this record thoroughly, mainly for its surprises, the brilliant mixing duties and the beautiful range of sounds, songs that were employed and gorgeous, almost tragic feel to the whole record. I have enjoyed each entry to the Involver Series as it may now be called, but this one has a certain permanence, a feel of timeless style and really a lot of heart put into it. I have been a fan of Sasha as a DJ and producer for a very long time, but this one has a distinct atmosphere to it, a room with a view as it were. I highly recommend listening to this wonderful album and I strongly suggest listening as a continuous mix as the individual tracks have distinct replay value; you may never get past track 6, and of course, you really should get to the end.
On a final, practical note, I do highly recommend purchasing the CD- as with the entire Involver Series- mainly because of the exquisite and conceptual album art available throughout. Beautiful work on all fronts, Cheers to Mr. Coe and his team for doing such a wonderful job. Hats off to all the original artists as well, the talent shines through even with the lens of Sasha’s sound further articulating their music.
Keep your headphones on.
* Sasha is interviewed in the album liner notes, discussing the creative process and the lengths gone through to make this album happen and, in the final sentence states, “Yes this is the last one.” I must say, I’m a bit sad for this news.
** Of course Sasha is he himself an early progenitor of the sound, it is very possible I am being overly romantic here.