Cracking debut album from Dylan Barnes and Jem Panufnik aka Prophets of Sound...
Christian Hopwood 2002
And so it was written that Dylan Barnes and Jem Panufnik would hooketh up, go forth in to the wilderness and make large house shaped records that when played at volume would wash away from the soul the dust of every day life...
Prior to the 'Prophets', Jem and Dylan cut their teeth on a variety of projects. Mr Panufnik used to be in a band with Simon Radcliffe, now one half of Basement Jaxx, called President Groovestone (ahem!). Following that he released records as Soul of Man and ran his Finger Lickin' label. Barnes gave up his job as a set designer at the Royal Opera House to fiddle with machines that went "squelch" and "bing", set up the Sunflower label and released tunes under the Earl and Mutiny monikers. After two years hard graft the album is finished and we would not be speaking out of turn if we were to say the Circus just rolled in to town.
By way of a summary, the musical direction of this record could be described thus. The Prophets of Sound drive their brightly coloured cement mixer of disco out of Philadelphia, down the I80, crash through the back wall of the Paradise Garage (high fiving Larry Levan as they pass the DJ booth), pick up the Furious Five on the way out and screech to a halt outside Body and Soul.
Trading in most of New York's dance heritage this stonking future retro record of uplifting house and heavy disco will undoubtedly see heavy rotation this summer. If this album fulfils the promise contained in its title then the disco house wonder of "New Dawn" is the red and white striped Big Top complete with trapeze artists, moustachioed strongman and one of those ball balancing seals. Fat kick drums, a rolling bass line, a mean sax lick and a supremely exhilarating vocal courtesy of Mary Joy rubber-stamp this track a floor filler and a classic.
Other attractions include tribal stomp-athon "Pachanga!", "Heartbreaker" - five solid minutes of funk laden hip hop that Grandmaster Flash would have been happy to put his name to as well as the Philly string drenched inferno "Tide of Dreams".
As debuts go Circus is more than impressive, especially as good house artist albums are so hard to come by. Wonderful production skills are married with an obvious love and understanding of the genres to create an essential party record. Altogether now... "Day break..."