Review: Nick & Nath – Ynysmonks EP
Written by James Zaremba on 21st July 2017
Spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, Xhosa is one of the many officially-recognised languages of South Africa. It is also the spoken language of dancefloors across Liverpool and North Wales, with Melodic Distraction & Gottwood residents, Nick & Nath finding musicality in the language on their debut track, ‘Ndizama Kuwe’.
With a punchy bassline and wobbly vocals, this track has dominated their sets over the past twelve months, with anticipative audiences applauding every time they hear the rapturous vocals shining through the mix. An ever-evolving track, no two listens have been the same this year, with the pair adding grittier, break-beat style drums to the track on this final cut.
Elsewhere on their Ynysmonks EP (named after their hometown of Ynys-mon in North Wales), Nick & Nath bring proceedings down a shade with the slow-burning, ‘Play.’ A balearic excursion, the 5-minute track rises and falls as it meanders towards a gleaming saxophone sample that cuts right through the softly-programmed synths and simple drum patterns. Just as good for opening a party as closing one, the soulful vocal on ‘Play’ offers a real hands-in-the-air vibe that could easily fit in with the sounds of Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section or the Peckham-based No Bad Days Records.
Showcasing their ability to traverse genres, ‘I Wish’ introduces Nick & Nath as proponents of a more minimal and melancholy aesthetic. Sparse and in some ways ominous in sound, the track’s opening three minutes finally lift with a well-crafted Nina Simone sample shining through. Careful to uphold her sultry, loungey vocals, Nick & Nath pepper the track with just enough light drumwork as to not dominate the softly-sung lyrics, as the track drifts toward a natural and satisfying fade.
Not content with one legendary female vocalist, Nick & Nath then turn their attention to neo-soul queen, Erykah Badu. While many artists, from house to hip-hop, have touched upon Badu’s music, Nick & Nath provide enough of an original concept to make this track feel authentic and original in its sound. Choppy drums and an effortlessly crisp piano melody ease listeners into the track before it erupts with increasingly-frantic drums and off-kilter vocal cuts.
Most notable on this EP is the way in which Nick & Nath, even on their debut release, dot their samples in such unexpected and musically intriguing places. At times off-kilter but always with a strong direction behind them, each track validates the fact that this production duo have a very interesting future ahead of them.
Be sure to catch them DJing at all Melodic Distraction parties over the coming months.