Following two EP releases on the label last year, British born but Berlin-based producer Marquis Hawkes has this time hooked up with the Houndstooth crew for a full album.
His debut, ‘Social Housing’, as much as being a love letter and thank you note to his home, is an attempt to counter the perceived negative connotations that the titular term carries, particularly in the UK. Rather than bringing to mind ‘slum estates, broken windows and criminality’, as Hawkes deems is too often the case, the album looks to celebrate the stability and security offered by such schemes. Stability and security that he says was essential for the creation and production of this album and his other work.
Its strengths come in its prevailing sense of celebration and optimism, never more so than in its jazzier moments and thanks in no small part to the contributions of legendary keyboardist Tim Blake on songs ‘Tim’s Key’s’ and ‘Apple of My Eye’, which Hawkes himself has acknowledged as ‘the real standout tracks’.
There is a real sense of feel-good inclusivity throughout, from the chattering voices on the tribal-house infused ‘Summer Memory’ to the album artwork, designed by Underground Resistance’s Alan Oldham (also known as DJ T-1000) and portraying a diverse community dancing in front of their apartment block, united in their collective positivity. That’s not to say the album is devoid of darker or more introspective moments, ‘Locked Out’ brings a change to proceedings in terms of mood. But even here it seems optimism pervades, as the duskier bassline is interjected with uplifting synths that are sonically reminiscent of Metronomy’s ‘English Riviera’, another album heavily inspired by, and sentimental of, the home and surroundings of its creators.
Whether it’s the soul samples of opening track ‘Ode to A Broken Heart’ that would be at home on a feel-good hip-hop record, the grooving bassline of ‘The Landsberger Funk’ or the nostalgic piano and acid house composition of ‘Feel The Music’, the whole album is a joyously sunny record that ought to be the soundtrack to many a summer party in the coming months.
Words: James Kilpin
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