Genre: House, Leftfield
The design on Workshop’s 23rd 12” sets the tone for Willow’s slow and bassy house ditties – a tranquil squid drifting along an ocean bank, lightly moving its tendrils in response to external stimuli. Now imagine the external stimuli are people, and the ocean bank is a dank basement, the squid grooving its way through the crowds, cutting shapes across the dancefloor. Playing on the sound she hit gold with on her 2015 tune ‘Feel Me’, released on the Workshop 21compilation EP, Workshop 23 has Willow making sparse and subtle house tunes flecked with her unique flavour.
What made ‘Feel Me’ great for me is Willow’s masterfully groovy bassline, and ‘A1’ takes further advantage of her talent here. The very short manipulated vocal sample she uses reverberates stylistically in the mix, repetitive, building tension; at the same time that bass is addictively loud, turning the tune into a stomping house banger. In ‘A2’ Willow sketches the track around another soulful vocal sample, this time left more intact, the whole while sung over the sound of foamy waves lapping against the sea shore. It gives the tune an almost mythic quality, a context somewhere in a story far from dancefloor. ‘B1’ is probably the weakest track but once it gets going it is hypnotic. As the bass and the beat scuffle with each other a sort of broken piano riff repeats again and again, pulling you into a trance as the track builds, ending in some soft acid. ‘B2’ is a rework of ‘Feel Me’ itself, Feel Me part ii if you like, utilizing a similar bouncing bass sound and the same manipulated horn sample or whatever it was used in the original, this time its rhythm slightly different. The organic clap sound on every second beat is infectious.
All the tracks suffer from having excessively long intros, but it isn’t too much bother because the feeling is definitely there and they progress enough to stay interesting until they finish. And I shouldn’t poo-poo Willow for a second version of ‘Feel Me’ in ‘B2’. The tune is refreshing enough and is a cool hark back to the initial track. It’s nostalgic, restating the track’s legacy, proving that it wasn’t just a one off and that Willow is the business.