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Envoy Shoulder 2 Shoulder Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

Envoy aka vocalist/producer Hope Grant is a modern soul man with a penchant for...

Jack Smith 2004

Portrayed as the demented love child of Green Velvet and Aretha Franklin (now there's a picture I'd rather not have in my head), Envoy aka Hope Grant is a modern day soul man with a penchant for techno. By techno think Underground Resistance and early Madkatt Courtship material, with Shoulder 2 Shoulder the vehicle for a magical journey of burbling basslines and striking synth electronica.

Reference points are many, with the influences of Giorgio Moroder bubbling beneath the surface on "Red Mist", while "Is This..." immediately draws to mind strings reminiscent of Detroit finest techno forefathers Juan Atkins and Derrick May. Their sound is further imprinted on the title-track, and current single, that oozes of the city's funkier elements with layered keys and shimmering riffs fighting a rear-guard action against a monotone vocoder akin to early Underworld recordings, as all the while the groove builds to a sprightly saxophone crescendo.

"Move On", a beautifully delivered soul-drenched song, with spiritual intonations that hark back to the halcyon days of the Warehouse and Frankie Knuckles, while a near identikit version of Rickster's archetypical house classic "Night Moves", fused effortlessly with Mr Fingers-styled acid basslines, continues the retro ambiance.

"Into The Arena" brings the vibe completely up to date with dark drums rubbing shoulders with stark chords, while "U Can Go" 'borrows' the rhythm track from the Bucketheads' "The Bomb" with a vocal in the Green Velvet mold telling his lover exactly where to get off.

Never a dull moment with less-most-definitely-more as subtle sampled loops, warm strings and sparse vocal snippets combine on a debut that is as contemporary as it is timeless.

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