LEROSA - DUAL NATURE (Further)
Formats are always at the heart of dance music. Vinyl, CD, Digital and their role or validity are constantly battled over by the denizens of the internet in an argument that is boring as much as of the music that they deliver. But Tape? Analogue Tape? I struggle to think of the last time I saw one, let alone played one. The advent of the mini-disc in the late 90’s killed off my interest in a format that I struggled to like - too many times my Walkman chewed up a lovingly constructed mix tape with the gleeful insouciance that primitive analogue technology seemed all too often to provide. In their defence though, they did provide me with many of my first musical epiphanies; I remember playing Public Enemy’s second album to the point where the cassette fell apart in 1988. By being the first real disposable format though, it was inevitably doomed as the point of its existence facillated its obsolescence.
So what’s the point of releasing an album of a very limited run (99 copies) on a format that very few people will actually have the ability to hear? Well, in this day and age, given the state of p2p and the proliferation of the ability to hear anything within a very short time, there is something rather special about receiving a piece of music in this way. It appeals to a sense of politely sticking two fingers up to the inevitablity of how formats evolve, and makes us feel that for all the power of the internet, there is going to be music that you might not ever hear, even though you want to. The democratisation of sound through consumerism can produce a lopsided effect for demand in the listener. This redresses the balance ever so slightly - by releasing it in a format that very few people can actually hear, there’s a sense of listening to something that isn’t going to be subject to the sort of exposure that can ruin a lot of music.
So what’s it like? Well for those who know Leopoldo Rosa’s music, it might come as something of a little surprise. Generally perceived as a solid house music producer, “Dual Nature” is full of little surprises - from the Drexciyan murmurs of “Spectra”, to the Prelude-sounding 80’s electrofunk of “Traffic”, this is much more of a melodic approach from him, colouring his tracks with solid harmonies and effective synth washes. Some of the tracks are more like ideas rather than fully fledged compositions, and I found some of the tracks ended rather abruptly, but there’s much to be enjoyed here. “5 Petals” is slow-mo acid, and “Drama” which ends the first side, recalls golden-era Middleton & Pritchard with its sinewy tropes and breakbeats.
The mid-90’s vibe continues onto the other side, title track “Dual Nature” evoking Artificial Intelligence era Warp, crisp percussion transposing the subtle production to great effect. “Illness 2” on the other hand recalls Rosa’s other material, hypnotic bass underlaying some abstract sounds, and the rest of the tracks are more in common with this aesthetic. The analogue muffle of tape does to a certain extent have a deleterious effect here, although I feel it may be something psychosomatic on my behalf - production of this type of music does inevitably sound better on more robust formats. However that shouldn’t deter you from trying to seek out this little gem as it’s the spirit of the endeavour, both on behalf of the artist and the label which counts for most here. The tracks on the first side too make it worth you dusting off that tape player.