Shanti Celeste & Hodge – Soba Dance

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2019 is already shaping up quite well, thank you very much. As MPs scramble for a Brexit deal and the pound weakens by the second, we can be comforted in the knowledge that Shanti Celeste is returning to Peach Discs, teamed up with Hodge for the label’s first release of the year. Soba Dance is a three-track EP that shows off the best of both producers: combining Celeste’s ability to feel out the sunshine in electronic music and Hodge’s aptness in teasing out interesting sounds to make a heavy beat, the EP is a triumph.

In the titular track, the percussion weaves patterns around the melodic lines, both interlocking in a brief embrace then dancing away from each other again, meeting fleetingly yet wonderfully. The minor key simultaneously unsettles and lulls you; such upbeat drums don’t seem at once to go with such contemplative notes, but once the flow gets going, it’s a perfect match.

Fast on its heels comes “Alula”, a tropical transportation to places far warmer than here. Combining swung bongo-esque sounds with a straight driving kick on every beat, the echoing melody line is sunk in reverb that runs circles around the rhythm. The abrupt ending feels untimely, and five minutes feels far too short. Heading up the rear is “Pips”, a mystic track that is the only one on the EP that includes a vocal sample: surprising, given that this is a prominent feature of both Celeste and Hodge’s previous releases. At its core is the syncopated drum loop that sounds like a subtly distorted talking drum; around this, melody lines fade in and out, temporary and ephemeral.

What is striking about Soba Dance is that it is not a release for the so-called electronic music heads. Whilst the layers are there to be read into, the EP can be felt throughout your whole body, making it instantly accessible for those who edge on the peripheries of the scene. With this release, Shanti Celeste and Hodge open up their arms to welcome anyone and everyone to the dancefloor.