Artist : Shelley Johannson
Title : Midnight Red EP
Label : Octopus Black
Release : Out Now
Toronto has long been a breeding ground for great techno producers, and Sian’s label – Octopus has been a great platform to show them off. All too often though, labels are cautious with new artists, and never give them the freedom to express themselves fully; instead shielding their risk with big name remixes. Not Sian. Not on his watch. As they state in the press release, Shelley Johannson has one foot in the booth, and one on the dance floor, the results are immense.
“I’m exhilarated about the release of “Midnight Red”! I wanted to create an EP that had a mixture of moods that reflected what I like listening to. I love using big drums and female vocals in my productions and these elements can be heard throughout the tracks. So, the tone of the EP is dark, a little mischievous and also playful. I’m excited to share my sounds with other dance music enthusiasts.” – Shelley Johannson
Starting off with the warehouse sounds of title track ‘Midnight Red’, tribal drums rumble as Shelley slowly adds layers of tension before a stab lead takes hold at the first break. This is the kind of heads down, peak time techno that Awakenings would wet themselves for. Big, ballsy and utterly devastating. Continuing with those gargantuan warehouse drums, ‘Take it’ is a darker journey. Fractured only by Shelley’s tongue in cheek vocals “Are you really here?” twisted up with FX, this is a linear drum-led stomper. From a purely production viewpoint, I have to take my hat off to this, it’s an amazing groove, and genuinely doesn’t get boring despite it being so stripped back.
‘Leave You’ is less intense. To start with! The initial tech house groove is soon unpinned by a devilish bass and more vocal work, pushing the track in to ever more sinister waters. The second half is as relentless as it is satisfying. That’s 3 from 3 for Sian’s new recruit! The machine funk of closer ‘Love Is’ belies a level of complexity not seen in Shelley’s previous three tracks. Deft use of reverb on some percussion parts give space as layers are consistently added for the first 4 or so minutes of the track; the break at 3.50 serving as a brief respite. The pay off though for all the tension she creates is well worth it, and of the 4 tracks, this is most likely I would play. Glorious!
You’ll definitely be hearing a lot more from this girl in the coming years, this is one very talented artist.