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Album Review: Yousef 'A Product Of Your Environment'

Long live the dance album format if it continues to produce aural delicacies like this!

By Jordan Smith

Artist: Yousef
Album: A Product Of Your Environment
Label: Circus Recordings
Release date: September 2012

facebook.com/yousefcircus
soundcloud.com/yousef

A Product of Your Environment opens a long way from club-land, with a gorgeous ascending piano chord progression and string harmony which could be the score to the opening scene of your next favourite movie. An Old Friend instantly commands one’s full attention – placid, nostalgic and when a high hat and clap kicks in at the halfway mark, suddenly a lot of fun. This twelve-track offering from Yousef is a very well thought-out and well-executed project, best listened to as a whole so one can appreciate the variety of experiences it recalls and recognise certain recurring themes, for example the piano, which weaves in and out of one’s ears during this 1.2 hour aural excursion, adding a human touch to the techno.

At the risk of choking on regurgitated hyperbole, I can’t help but agree with the album press release on this one. Most of these tracks stand up as quality compositions within and away from the dance floor, each building a unique and enveloping atmosphere in less time than it takes to boil an egg. For The Terraces and Had No Sleep inhabit a dim corner of a late-night dance floor, their layered dissonance and deep synths suggesting darkness and disorientation. Follower, I See, belongs under a starry night sky by the water; a melancholy, natural sounding bass repeatedly slides down a third while vocalist Charli Taft tunefully laments . . . but the hero of the song is the forlorn muted trumpet hovering at the edges of the soundscape. It’s the touches like this trumpet, or the curious classical guitar in What Is Revolution, or the return (with a vengeance) of the piano in Indigo with an uninhibited solo – it’s these touches, held together by complimentary synths and tight beats, which make this an album worth not merely dancing to, but talking about.

In Fear Of Dusk is deliciously dark and closer, Dissolve, stomps out a deep and funky bassline with our old buddy grand piano making a final trilling and thrilling appearance in a satisfying display of aural symmetry. Creative instrumentation, inspiration drawn from outside the ravebox, and a great attention to detail has really set this album apart. You needn’t analyse it to within an inch of its life (I just couldn't help myself), but do give it several listens - this one’s a grower, not a show-er.

Long live the oft-criticised dance album format, if it continues to produce aural delicacies like this.

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