Ninja Tune present a very Ninja Tune album from Seven Davis Jnr, who whirls up a whole load of styles into a highly groovy series of electro-funk productions. Universes will make you expand all your energy on wild dancing, if you give it the chance. Double LP, CD, and special CD with an extra disc of ‘bonus beats’.
8/10 Andy Staff review, 22 July 2015
Seven Davis Jnr made quite an impact on Ninja Tune with the barnstorming 12" 'Wild Hearts' - pretty bold to then leave that off the album as it is a real killer tune. Having remixed Four Tet and of course being picked up by Ninja he has demonstrated some pedigree - you don't get those gigs by being a chancer, however that also means expectation will be higher.
Seven Davis has pretty much delivered on that expectation - this is a strong album, there are some standouts, and overall this is likely to cement his position on the top table of electronic dance music producers - by that I mean the likes of Theo Parrish and Moodymann rather than whoever it is that produces 'EDM'. There are a couple of weaker tracks on here, 'Fighters' is a case in point. It's fine, but drifts by without really doing anything to lodge in your mind - then a pretty cringeworthy 'Why do humans fight' skit with a Steve Hawking alike speak & spell machine (I assume its not really him?) rounds of the track making it memorable in a bad way.
Far better are the tracks where Seven channels Prince fronting Daft Punk - 'Good Vibes' is a superb stomping funky house groove, the track features Julio Bashmore and seems to make the most of his dancefloor knowledge. To be honest its far better than anything on 'Random Access Memories'. 'Be A Man' featuring Flako is a high point, afro sounding grooves kicking things along and in the process ensuring the variety of sounds across the album keeps things fresh. 'Sunday Morning' has a similar pattern to 'Wild Hearts' a tough boogie take on house, it really is irresistible - in a club this would making dancing an infectious response no one could resist. It is on these tracks that Seven really hits his stride, no less deep than the likes of Theo or Kenny Dixon Jr, but with just an bit more funk, boogie and really just more accessible or inviting to those who want to just get down.
Overall, this is not perfect, but a damn fine soundtrack to summer fun, after hours grooving or just having a solo boogie with headphones on. 'Universes' is the sort of record Daft Punk could make if they perhaps didn't take the whole process of recreating disco music so seriously.
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