Freemasons piece together records like vintage disco producers.
Louis Pattison 2007-11-02
UK club culture has undergone something of a dip since its heyday in the late Eighties to late Nineties, but even if the mainstream popularity of the genres like disco house have waned somewhat, the enduring success of production teams like the Freemasons – aka Brighton’s Russell Small and James Wiltshire - demonstrates the scene can still turn out overground hits. The pair rose to fame with a string of bright, funky remixes, but with stars such as Beyonce and Kylie requesting their production knowledge, it’s clear the Freemasons are bound for big things.
The second album under the Freemasons moniker, Unmixed is actually a greatest hits of sorts, bringing together a string of the duo’s early singles plus a few tracks from 2007’s double CD mix ‘Shakedown’ – but all, as the title suggests, in their complete, unmixed state. This isn’t just for the wannabe DJs, though; rather, Unmixed demonstrates that the Freemasons aren’t just scientists in the art of slapping together a neat remix. Rather, they piece together records like vintage disco producers, concentrating more on subtle builds and big-picture songcraft than straight slamming beats.
The band’s biggest hit to date, "Uninvited" - an all-but-unrecognisable take on the Alanis Morissette hit - attaches a stomping beat to circling Eastern strings, sweeping classical violin, and the vocals of the so-called “new Joss Stone”, Bailey Tzuke. The duo’s three other Top 20 hits – "Love On My Mind" and "Watchin", (both starring Freemasons collaborator Amanda Wilson), and "Rain Down Love" with former Michael Jackson collaborator Siedah Garrett – are amongst the group’s best: brassy 4/4 club tracks with powerful diva vocals.
There’s more here besides, though: "Desperados" injects a Mariachi flavour, all lonely horns and the click of castanets, and there’s an uplifting cover of "Love Don’t Live Here Anymore", the Motown classic later popularised by Madonna, that should make the right dancefloor very happy.