Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) - Main Room
WHO: London-based producer and DJ Archie Fairhurst
STYLE: Cerebral downtempo sample-based house, jazz and hip hop highlights
LATEST: Projections (2015), Rainbow single (2015), Roots/Pusherman single (2014)
LABELS: Ninjatune, Black Acre
MORE: Romare’s concept of sampling relies on giving due credit, yet inevitably copyright obstructions put a damper on his conceptual academic ideals, leaving the sources of some samples murky
In the same way an orchestra convenes even in clamour, Romare’s live instrumentation on guitars, synths and percussion shares sonic space with digitized samples that declare a free-flowing love of classic jazz, blues and juke: jolting saxophone, A Love Supreme basslines, back-up singer harmonies, Lomax’s decaying guitar samples, all chosen for their emotional resonance.
With Projections Romare has made perhaps the finest downtempo record since downtempo stopped being popular – he’s bringing back the best of the genre if only through how much he genuinely cares about the samples he mines, some gleaned from records first heard in childhood. He builds a house foundation for jazz, juke and even disco greats, precisely cutting in African rhythms too – though with a 2012 release titled, Meditations on Afrocentrism, his careful selections and studied, respectful embrace of culture are no shock.
Like his alias, Romare borrows the title of his latest release from African-American artist Romare Bearden’s 1964 exhibition Projections, his re-positioning of black identity via historical and media collages. It’s a compellingly tense arrangement for downtempo house, and it works. Known to play his multilayered music in configuration with a drummer and guitarist, Romare comes to MUTEK solo yet with a dance sound to beat the band.