Review of Think Twice by Yousef
Yousef has been at the top of the game for well over 10 years now, not only as a DJ, but as a producer and record label owner too. Working with everyone from industry stalwarts like DJ Sneak, Carl Cox and techno pioneers Richie Hawtin and Sven Väth to helping break the careers of the next generation such as Maya Jane Coles and Jamie Jones, there is always an air of something special landing when he drops a new EP.
‘Think Twice’, coming soon to Defected Records, is no exception to this. The original mix is packed full of the technical brilliance which is Yousef’s trademark. Right from the outset the kicks are masterfully strong and clear, with the supporting percussion having enough depth to really support but not smother. A subtle synth runs from the beginning which builds quietly in the background in such an unobtrusive manner I only noticed it coming in after a few listens.
The bass line is beautifully balanced with an almost tribal riff running through the intro which further enhances the excellent percussion. There is fantastically effected piano riff introduced which again does not make its presence overly obvious but adds yet another layer to the depth of the tune, even when the tune deconstructs into the first minor breakdown, which is where the amazing vocal from Alexander East is brought in
Rather than bring everything back in with the kicks, bass line and vocal, the piano is taken out, which really adds to the feel of the vocal. The tune builds through with the haunting vocal gathering momentum with nice use of sound FX to help the tune to roll along nicely until the piano is reintroduced. It’s hard to decide if the vocal sounds better with or without the piano backing, both with or without the tune sounds great, again pointing to the technical brilliance of Yousef.
Next up is the Catz ‘n’ Dogz remix.While not having the technical brilliance of the original this remix definitely serves a purpose and will almost certainly find its way into a set or two of mine over the next few weeks.
A lot tougher with a techier edge to it, the remix certainly does not have the subtlety of the original, but it will definitely work very well on more dnace floors than not. The vocal is introduced early through various stabs, with a retro sounding, almost acid-house inspired bass line. This is accompanied by some equally historical percussion and synth stabs, adding up to a sound that is sure to please today’s fans of “Nu-deep” sounds.
The vocal is very much stripped back to its bare essentials in this mix, almost making it a dub mix. The stabs that are used are combined with some great acid wizardry to create a nice build to the main breakdown, which again uses some great delay and reverb effects to help build through to more synth work and SFX to the drop, at which point the tune does little except work towards a conclusion.
Reading back over the last few paragraphs it sounds like I’m not a fan of this rework, however this is not true. It’s a great filler, which is as important to make a set flow as just playing big hitters.
The last two tracks on the EP are a vocal remix and dub remix from Fred Everything. I have been a long term fan of this producer and DJ, with his ‘Lazy Days’ Podcasts making it into rotation on my phone for use in work and on the road almost every month.
Firstly is the dub mix, probably my favourite tune on this release. The subtly of the original is recaptured with fantastic use of time stretching on snips of the vocal to really make some interesting noises through the intro.
The bass line and synth riffs are nicely matched with just the right level of effects on the synths to really compliment the simple yet effective bass. The reverb is used brilliantly to fade the synths out of the intro to leave us with the vocal stabs and bass line again, which further deconstruct into the main breakdown.
As with any dub mix the use of the vocal is minimal through the breakdown, again using effects brilliantly to soften the exit into the main body of the tune. And that’s pretty much all there is to the Fred Everything dub, it’s another great piece of set filler with a nice deep feel that I really like. The track is nearly 7 minutes long but seems to finish much quicker than you’d think and once it’s done you don’t feel short changed, just an urge to maybe listen to it just once more. Or is that just me?
The Fred Everything vocal follows the same pattern of the dub, with slightly extended breakdowns for the vocal to be used much more fully. The bass line and synths used appear to be identical but there is slightly more depth to the bass line as it develops through the track, which ultimately allows the vocal to be built to and used much more effectively.
For as long as I have been DJing I have always taken a dub mix or instrumental version of a track over a full vocal but the Alexander East vocal used by Yousef is definitely unobtrusive enough to make me question my age-old choice of Dub over Vocal. I have both burned up and in my gig wallet, maybe if the crowd and timing is right I may break the habit of a life time and drop the Fred Everything vocal rework or even the original mix over the dub.
Over all this is a very strong EP coming to Defected, Yousef once again proving why he has been one of the most respected names in UK house and techno for well over a decade.
What do you think of Yousef, is he the technical genius our reviewer says he is. We loved ‘Think Twice’, have a listen and let us know what you think. Simply add a comment below, tweet us @MusicEyz or post to the Music Eyz Facebook page.
Review by Rob Coghlan