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Mark E - Stone Breaker

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Artist: Mark E

Album: Stone Breaker

Label: Spectral Sound

Review date: May. 17, 2011

No one makes edits like Mark E. Just listen to his take on Janet Jackson’s “R&B Junkie.” Mark turned it into a charging, hypnotic disco monster while keeping the right amount of the original’s pleasant boogie. Other folks might not shy away from repetition, but Mark basically rubs the listener’s nose in it. These are not “clean” edits; the cuts and samples are rough and obvious, almost amateurish, in order to show that he’s in total control. Mark makes the point by looping Janet’s request to slow the beat down for the final three and half minutes of the track. The beat doesn’t slow down.

His own productions have all been quality, but they necessarily aren’t as instantly pleasurable as his pop interpretations. And with Mark claiming to be out of the edit game entirely (on his label MERC’s Facebook page last year, he posted, simply, “NO MORE EDITS,” and he said as much in a recent Join the Dots interview), they’re what we’re going to get for the foreseeable future.

Which isn’t a problem, I guess, but it’s still a bit of a letdown. I’m biased, though — I listed a Mark E edit 12” as my favorite release of last year. I think he’s the guy who can provide a check on a too-silly scene. A turn toward more straightforward body music is not what I want him to do. So, I’ll take this opportunity to request that Mark E make more edits. Mark E: please make more edits.

That being said, Stone Breaker is undeniably a Mark E product, propulsive disco-house clouded by his trademark ambient haze, with terrific builds and releases. It’s easily one of the better dance music albums that will come out this year. Certain moments are simply fantastic: the acid that creeps over the raw disco bass line at the halfway point of “Belvide Beat”; the rollercoaster vocal line of “The Day,” which sounds like Liz Fraser going schaffel; the pulse under the reversed sounds in “Got to Get Me There”; the lighter-than-air breakdowns of “Quatro.” The album sticks with you.

If Mark ever finds a vocalist to match his style, he’ll be unstoppable. And as long as he keeps making music, I can’t complain too much.

By Brad LaBonte

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