The constant citation of "Chicago house and Detroit techno" as influences has very nearly reduced both to empty signifiers; such vague and vacuous overuse ignores the distinct aesthetic and conceptual ideals of the actual music. That tendency to play fast and loose with the defining traits of late '80s and early '90 house and techno is one Juan Maclean has studiously avoided in his new side project, Peach Melba. Built on tracks he felt were too "house-y" to be included amongst the more song-oriented singles on a proper The Juan MacLean release, Peach Melba is Maclean's vehicle for releasing a stream of upcoming DJ friendly 12"s. The project's output is decidedly faithful to the blueprint of those aforementioned early productions, emphasizing rolling melodies and big vocal hooks.
The latter led Maclean to collaborate with singer Amy Douglas, who provides the house-diva beltings and wails that form the layered centerpiece of "Can't Let Go." In addition to Douglas's original vocals, Maclean has constructed every element in these tracks from the ground up – the bounding, springy bass, chattering beats, and restless synth stabs have all been programmed from scratch and set on an endless loop. There is no ambiguity here, no obfuscation of the musical lineage from which Peach Melba's debut descends. Maclean has created a new song that sounds classic; an homage to its musical precursors devoid of historical and sonic revisionism.
The stripped down dub remix shifts the feel far from the warmth of the original and into a comparatively barren landscape. Maclean has chopped up Douglas's vocals and sparsely spread them throughout, while a beat that sounds like metal-on-metal clanks through minimally decorated sonic spaces. The dub of dub take is even further reduced to the essentials, with the pounding percussive heart of the song beating out its biorhythms and most very vital signs.
- Kali Holloway
Published: 29th June 2011