Erra – Stax / Jookup
(Written for LeftLion magazine)
There are underlying tensions at the heart of both tracks on this long-awaited 12-inch release from former Wigflex stalwart (and self-styled purveyor of “cake music”) Luke Mellard, aka Erra. On Stax, jerky, clattering, grime and garage-derived rhythms provide the bedrock for a nagging four-note synth riff, which re-appears in a variety of different treatments: sometimes staccato, sometimes jazzy. But even as these elements playfully dance around each other – restlessly shape-shifting, never settling into predictable patterns – you’re also made aware of certain gentler, more reflective counter-currents. These rise to the surface at around the three minute mark, as the track dissolves into a beatless, meditative glide. The rhythms resume, but at a slower pace, offering respite from the madness. Eventually, the dance riffs kick back in, with more furious insistence and certainty than ever before – but the battle is only temporarily won, and we’re soon winding back down again.
The rhythms are more fractured on Jookup, but Erra’s sonic palette stretches wider and deeper here. In the engine room, bassy sproings and rumbling wub-wubs propel the track in multiple directions at once, bouncing off each other with reckless energy. Meanwhile, up on the top deck, pitched-up vocal cut-ups shimmer daintily, in an almost pointillist fashion. The overall effect is elastic, frisky, cartoon-like – at least until the breakdown, which once again brings a measure of calm to choppy waters. Cheerfully chucking the rule-books of genre out of the window, Erra’s approach is fresh, inventive and loaded with youthful promise.