Jay L – Show Me / Blue Age

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For the latest release on Shanti Celeste’s locally focussed imprint BRSTL, she has enlisted a rare appearance from Jay L. Jay is one third of Bristol collective FallingUp, and is regarded as one of the finest DJs in Bristol, a reputation that saw Julio Bashmore invite him to warm up his Boiler Room album launch party.

It’s not only as a DJ that Jay L has been lauded. While rare to see, his name on a production credit has become a assurance stamp for thoughtfully considered house music. His 2014 white label ‘Together’ has become many a Bristolian DJ’s secret weapon, being aired in both Shanti Celeste’s Resident Advisor podcast and Peverelist’s back to back set with A Made Up Sound at 2015’s Dekmantel Festival.

BRSTL011 adds just two more tracks to Jay’s portfolio. Initially, both sides of the record give the first impression of being meticulously produced, if slightly by the books, deep house tunes. While Jay’s music does not demand your attention, it instead deserves it, and trusts the listener to give it the time for which they will be richly rewarded.

The beginning of A-side ‘Show Me’ sounds open-armed and welcoming, backed by warm chords and a buoyant skip in the two-step drum pattern. However, after the two minute long breakdown the sounds become less human, more cold and detached, all the while keeping its pace to ensure the attention of any hypothetical dance floor.

The introduction to B-side ‘Blue Age’ betrays Jay’s DJ roots; the drums are programmed perfectly, adding in extra elements after each 32 bars. This structure means that, when mixing, as soon as the beat is matched the song can build by itself. While ‘Show Me’ has potential as a robust dance floor tool, ‘Blue Age’ is about as delicate as house music can be. Muted pianos, atmospheric pads and snatches of bittersweet melody combine to create a tender, starkly personal piece of music.

It is impressive that Jay L is prepared to make such understated music at such a young stage of his career. His stark discography and painstaking quality control show that he is only prepared to release music on his terms, and on the evidence of this release, long may that continue.