Review of Rock Me by Leon & Toky
The upcoming release of Leon & Toky’s collaboration on Defected records marks the latest in a long line of release for both artists, but one which sees a slight change of musical direction for both producers.
Looking back through Leon’s back catalogue sees a much techier sound coming from him, with releases (and personal favourites, I might add) such as his remix of Todd Terry’s Bounce to The Beat and his collaboration with fellow Italian Pirupa for January’s monster Everylife.
Toky’s background is, for the most part, much deeper, with latest releases on the Electronique Digital label such as Prayer for love and Little AM being much more synth and keys driven.
Their collaborative effort therefore is definitely a meeting of styles. First up is the original mix, which has a nicely organic-sounding bass line that wouldn’t sound out of place in most styles of house. It has a nice funky edge to it that helps the tune roll along nicely from the first beat.
The simple yet effective percussion definitely takes inspiration from the deeper side of tech house that is so prevalent in club-world at the moment and compliments the uncomplicated funky bass line nicely. Early vocal stabs also set up the tune nicely without giving too much away.
All of this builds along to the first breakdown, where yet another simple synth element is introduced, the inspiration of which is clearly the deeper side of house, which builds into a nice melody carried through the rest of the tune. The breakdown also sees the development of the vocal, which remains clear yet subtly processed through reverb.
The deconstruction to the main breakdown is very well produced; an area of music making that is surprisingly hard to get wrong. The build-up from this is also superbly crafted using the simple elements of the bass and vocal with the addition of an almost- abrasive drum fill to drop us back into the main tune, which rolls along nicely to its conclusion.
I’ve used the word “simple” a lot to describe the various elements of this track, but that isn’t because the track is simple or badly made. In fact, quite the opposite is true; a host of simple elements have been combined beautifully to make a very nice, rolling funky tune that will definitely go into my record bag for future use.
The other track on this EP is an alternative remix from Leon, the Leon 909 Dub Mix. This version has a tougher edge than the original, with a much more aggressive bass line used and much more in-your-face riders in the percussion. From the outset the overall sound of this remix is rawer and in-keeping with the current deep house sound.
After the initial breakdown (which again is rather simple in its construction as with the original), an early 90s inspired synth is used, which in conjunction with the
male vocal definitely gives the feel of tracks released in the early daysof House music. This is mirrored by the effects used to phase certain elements in and out, with uncomplicated filters used to bring the vocal stabs in and a big, brash reverb used to deconstruct the percussion into the main breakdown.
Again this tune is made of a few simple elements that are all brought together superbly to make a very satisfying tune to play. The 909 Dub mix will appeal to the deep house crowd, while the original will appeal to a broader range of DJs, meaning this release can satisfy many dance floors around the world. The 909 Dub is quickly becoming my favourite of the EP and will definitely be making it into my sets this weekend and beyond!
This EP from Leon and Toky is hopefully the first of many collaborations to come from the Italian duo, as they join the long list of great producers coming from their particular corner of the world. I know I’ll be following them with interest in the coming months to see what they follow this up with…