Richard Sen is one of the UK house OGs from back then and if you know anything about that then you know that his output – from Bronx Dog through the late 90s into Padded Cell and in the 00s and a slew of top releases under his own name in recent years – is a helix of constantly inventive, seductive, hard-hitting and moody dance music with a wonderfully eclectic soul.
His latest EP on Klasse Wrecks sublabel Graffiti Tapes evokes one of Sen’s great life obsessions – the art of the tag. The three tracks on offer bring an organic down-to-earth feel into dimensions far from planet Earth, gliding through the matrix of melting pot London and its attendant clash of youth cultures and energies. The sleeve artwork here is in fact Sen’s seminal ‘Bottleneck’ style train panel, one of the first ever tags on the London Underground in the mid 80s which had the UK press up in arms.
Opener ‘Night Bus to Cairo’ riffs on the big British ska tune of similar provenance, but this is a heavy mid-tempo post-punky number for the discerning dance. Sinai energy in the percs and lead sounds with heart-in-your-chest house sensibilities in the ebb and flow of this magic dance floor stomper. Dare I say the ‘oriental’ lead element evokes the psychedelia of a dub melodica used properly in a 90s Weatherall production or the like? This is excellent stuff.
‘Breaking Away’ feels like the hedonism of a Paradise Garage or a Baia degli Angeli, a cosmic / new-wave painting of glistening stars cut across the night sky with unflinching, dubbed out vox, slick 1-& percussion and wide, heady Moog drops pushed to the max with resonance action. A dirty, heads-down dance adventure…
To round it off we get ‘Devil’s Caress’, with its big live room rhythm section providing the bedrock for stuttering arps and gated snares all sounding very 1982. It’s rocky, wavy and nostalgic but you know – or hope – it would shake up a dance floor in 2021.
Graffiti Tapes 12 is available today (05/02/21) at Klasse Wreck’s Bandcamp page. You can also pick up a cassette tape limited to 75 copies and with some extra tracks here.