They say the heart of rock n' roll is in Cleveland, but it's probably fair to say that fewer people believe that dance music's essence is in Wolverhampton. No matter, as Letherette - production duo Andy Harber and Rich Roberts - are putting the Black Country's epicentre on the map for all the right reasons, much you suspect to the chagrin of Noddy Holder.
Released in 2013, the pair's eponymous début built substantially on their first EP Featurette, a mix of front and back room club vibes and heavy-lidded duvet day ambience. It's a pick and mix approach that they've wisely opted to go with again here with Last Night On The Planet, never dwelling on one facet for anything more than a tune or two and keeping their horizons fresh by deploying the by now familiar toolset of working with hard hatted collaborators.
That's the good news. Now for the really good news: Harber and Roberts have used the unusually long period between records to perfect their special sauce, cutting down on the out and out bangers true, but in the process welcoming in more interesting characters. Classic Dilla-influenced opener Momma - Rejjie Snow on the mic, providing just the right mix of outrage and vulnerability - gives an initial impression of something not broken being fixed, but whilst hip-hop stylings resurface once more on the titular final track, they're both welcome guests rather than party hosts.
In between the span is something quite jaw dropping. On Soulette cut-up voices and a playful high end melody give the impression of two (Or more) loops sets being played simultaneously - it shouldn't work, but it does. By contrast the jumping hi-hats of Dog Brush could be taken as an intention to play things straighter, it's brassy refractions and 4/4 construct slightly obscured via a woozy analogue sheen, neat avatars that Wootera upgrades and refines, itself an effortlessly deep funk running on a hi-octane bassline and whispered 3am sample fragments.
None of this is as you might think very apocryphal-sounding for an album bearing a title suggesting that it's about to throw its own 7, but after a few listens it (Sort of) becomes clear that in fact Last Night On The Planet is the earth in Letherette's own dimension, a sort of different planet which the listener gets to spend one hedonistic night on before coming home. Certainly the glitchy tendrils of Bad Sign promise alien delight, a visitation that Rubu then soundtracks, it's nursery rhyme melodies and puckish sense of innocence not unlike that brio captured by Bent on their long-overlooked classic Programmed To Love.
Now, we used the phrase earlier "Cutting down on the out and out bangers". Time for a confession however: the duo have trimmed away the ephemera but instead utterly nailed the spirit of disco on Shanel, a blindingly undersold but expertly made collage of perfect beats and retro-modal synths, as playful and inspired as anything Metro Area ever produced. Yes, that good.
Such has been the creeping spread of electronic music into our lives over the last twenty years it comes now as no surprise when acts like Disclosure top the mainstream charts. Last Night On The Planet is the skeleton of one of those overtly populist records, but you sense that for Harber and Roberts it would simply have been too constricting to go that final yard and tighten up their act sufficiently for the general public to "Get" them. We say take a closer look at Letherette however - in fact, come on, feel their noise.
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