Black Burner
Gavin Herlihy
Cadenza 48

After last year's massive 26 Miles EP, Gavin Herlihy is back on Cadenza, and he comes bearing what can only be seen as an instant anthem. Remember those foam toys, the ones where you just had to add water, and they'd swell into wonderful, unexpected shapes? Back Burner is a lot like that, but no water needed: just a needle in the groove, or a laser across the aluminum, is enough to send this sucker ballooning to enormous proportions.

It begins with a loop of standup bass and rippling cymbals. It's understated, even delicate, but right from the start there's something electrifying about the cadence. It's a rushing, skipping groove enlivened by a hint of a voice deep in the mix. And from there it only gets more intense. First there's an eerie, wordless vocal loop, a bluesy falsetto croon that sounds like a freight train barreling across open space. The percussion digs in: meaty kick drum, flashing tambourines and a steady patter of hand drums. Tersely plucked funk guitar adds to the polyrhythmic flux, like sticky, elastic spiderwebs strung between the beats. And high, a lonesome wildpitch string breaks it all wide open, bringing a delicious sense of relief. It's huge: a spine-tingling, hair-raising, sex-and-laughter kind of rush.

Think is just as powerful, but it courts a different kind of intensity. This time it's all about the hips, with a brute, half-speed bassline leading the way. Like classic Chicago house, this is raw, unvarnished stuff, with hard-edged congas, cowbells and hi-hats getting as nasty as they wanna be. There's a looped vocal — a cry of desire or pain, take your pick — that adds to the urgency, while plunging chords and trim analog synth leads add depth to the mix. It's hard to believe that something this insistent could feel so soothing.

The digital bonus The Saga rounds out the EP. It's a nimble, quick-stepping deep house track with a bassline that just won't quit. It takes hold of your whole body, with a tight high end and a deep cushion of sub-bass. Watercolor keyboards and wordless vocal scraps fill in a swirling space punctuated by horn stabs, while a jacking drum groove closes its fist around a mere handful of sounds, and comes out swinging. It's a great way to close out the EP, taking Herlihy's sensual, emotive, perfectly paced house music well into the morning hours.

Written and produced by Gavin Herlihy for Cadenza Records.
Mastered by Rashad @ Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Published by Fabric Publishing / (p) & (c) Cadenza Records 2009. Distributed worldwide by

Cadenza 48