Disclosure-endorsed, Bristol dance polymath showcases his talent on this hugely enjoyable and brashly eclectic debut
Signed to London dance label PMR – who release the chart-topping breakout album ‘Settle’ by his friends and frequent touring buddies Disclosure in 2013 – Matt Walker has spent the last few years cultivating a reputation for making club bangers as Julio Bashmore. Coming up from Bristol’s underground, the 25-year-old ignored the city’s associations with bass and trip-hop to embrace the more accessible melodies of house. After a string of low-key releases came 2012 breakthrough ‘Au Seve’, a monster hit that consumed Ibiza for a whole summer and has amassed seven million YouTube plays. Walker also produced ‘If You’re Never Gonna Move’ for London singer Jessie Ware’s 2012 debut ‘Devotion’. In UK dance circles, few currently carry more clout.
Two years later, we get ‘Knockin’ Boots’. It sounds like its gestation was characterised by determined crate-digging and nights that stretched on for eternity, given its eclecticism and woozily high spirits. The record is full of the hummable synths and ecstatic drops associated with house, but it can’t really be contained by one genre. There are pulsating, stop-start rhythms (‘She Ain’t’), shuffling garage beats (‘What’s Mine Is Mine’) and soulful melodies (‘Holding On’). The title track and opener begins with a sample of Detroit R&B trio The Jones Girls crooning, “We danced and danced until we fell in love” taken from their 1980 single ‘Dance Turned Into A Romance’. Its pounding trance beat and one-note synths are winningly kitsch, setting a warm and fuzzy tone that’s enhanced by the use of live-recorded drums, bass and organs throughout the album.
Walker also enlists an array of up-and-coming singers: south London’s J’Danna adds sass to the louche ‘Simple Love’ and Johannesburg rapper Okmalumkoolkat brings a rapid-fire flow to the electrifying ‘Umuntu,’ which sounds like the best song ‘80s house producer Junior Vasquez never recorded. The most radio-friendly moment arrives with ‘Let Me Be Your Weakness’, which features vocals from London singer, funk producer and multi-instrumentalist Bixby and shows Walker can match Disclosure for poppiness. Colourful and unconventional throughout, ‘Knockin’ Boots’ keeps Julio Bashmore’s reputation for bangers firmly intact.
Director: Matt Walker
Record label: Boardwalk Records
Release date: 07 Aug, 2015