Friday 2 December 2011

Posted by Will Sumsuch | File under : , , ,
I was completely bowled over by the 6 track promo sampler for this, the debut Shades of Gray LP. Following my extremely positive feedback, the lovely folks at Beef Records were kind enough to send me a copy of the double CD album. It's rare that I get any kind of physical music through the post nowadays, and it makes the experience of sitting down for a listening session feel so much more special.

Before we move onto the music, let's get a bit of background on the duo themselves, taken from the label's press release:

"After 18 months of intense work in the studio Shades of Gray emerge with their debut album ‘Soul Machine’.  The duo of Michal Schwa and Nick West have progressively established themselves over the years producing consistently solid tracks and remixes for labels such as Neurotraxx Deluxe, Om Records, Salted Music, Dark Energy, Tronicsole and of course their home label Beef Records on which ‘Soul Machine’ is released. Released as a 2 CD set, vinyl and digital download, ‘Soul Machine’ includes 11 original tracks and 11 remixes from an all-star cast including veterans The Timewriter, Jef K & Gwen Maze, Soul Minority, Fiord and Lexy (Lexy & K-Paul) as well as some of the hottest emerging producers such as Peter Horrevorts, Steve Ward, Uone, LuRob and Londonground."

Opening the double CD case I'm immediately confronted with the following quote in the inner casing: "Life is not black and white, it is the subtleties you find amongst the million shades of gray that makes you who you are". Pretty deep, conceptual stuff- the excitement which has stayed with me from the material I've already heard grows stronger as I load up both CDs and press play...

The thing which impresses me no end about 'Soul Machine' is the quality which oozes from every sound on the record. This is considered, clever production, with a huge amount of flair and originality which has been carefully sculpted into an album which is truly a treat for the ears. No corners have been cut here, no obvious samples used- in short there isn't one point in the whole LP where the producers are giving any less than 100%.

House LPs are always difficult to get right and Shades of Gray manage a perfect balance between dancefloor sensibility and the depth & musicality required for home listening. 'Drums Of The South', 'Crazee' & 'Midnight Lover' are instant classics, and the rest of the collection isn't half bad either...

The remixers for this project have been well chosen, I really wouldn't say there's a bad mix in the whole package. Highlights for me have to be The Timewriter's inspired mix of 'Drums Of The South', Peter Horrevorts' sublime version of 'Back To The Future' & Fiord's dreamy take on 'Higher Ground'.

Overall this is a really special package of music, brilliantly written, carefully crafted and elegantly presented. If even half the music I get sent was anywhere close to as good as this record, I would be a very happy man...

You need this in your life!

Buy digital:

Buy vinyl/CD:

To celebrate the release of Soul Machine, Shades of Gray are offering a FREE track from the album! Grab it here:
FREE DOWNLOAD – Shades Of Gray – Illusions (from the Soul Machine album) by Shades of Gray


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