Workaround is the debut album by Beatrice Dillon. She has taken her love of the UK club scene, mixed it with afro-carriebean influences and samples from guest musicians such as Kuljit Bhamra on tabla, Jonny Lam from Pharoah Sanders Band playing pedal steel guitar, Laurel Halo and Batu at synth & vocals and samples respectively along with Kadialy Kouyaté playing kora and Lucy Railton on cello. It makes for a refreshingly innovative blend of rhythm and sound.
Vinyl LP £16.99 PAN106LP
LP on PAN mixed by James Rand and mastered by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering. Sleeve is housed inside a frosted orange PVC outer. Artwork by Thomas Ruff.
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Beatrice Dillon’s debut LP ‘Workaround’ presents as a series of evolving cells. Not only is a throughline discernable in ten of the fourteen tracks here being linked by name (‘Workaround One’, ‘Workaround Two’...), but Dillon also turns over the same sonic archetypes across the record - tabla loops, electronic drums, little hiccups of sub-bass - as if examining them under a magnifying glass. It's an effect derived from ‘Drumming’/‘Music For 18 Musicians’-era Steve Reich, the same sounds and patterns moving over one another, ducking out, reconstituting and returning on a later ‘Workaround’.
Bar the beat-free interludes pretty much all of ‘Workaround’ runs at 150-bpm, an unusual tempo which gives Dillon the options of both swiftness and lilt. Some of the quicker 'Workarounds' come close to Rian Treanor’s post-rave electronics, while juke, footwork, dub-techno and glitch can be parsed on ‘Clouds Strum’, the comparative directness of this track somewhat signposted by it being the first number here without ‘Workaround’ in its title. However, unlike Treanor’s unpredictable, jerky music Dillon’s beats coast along with a cooler head. Indeed, when ‘Workaround’ leans back you could imagine more streamlined versions these tracks providing instrumentals for vocals - there’s something of the stiff-necked r ‘n’ b of Kelela’s ‘Cut For Me’ here, and the combination of spacious programming and frequent tabla interjections give cuts like ‘Workaround Two’ a buoyancy derived in part from golden-age Timbaland.
Dillon clearly approaches her craft with vision and studiousness, and there is a suggestion of utopian globalism in the breadth of collaborators on ‘Workaround’ - as well as fellow UK bass innovators Untold and Batu we also get Senegalese Griot Kadialy Kouyaté on kora while those aforementioned tabla stabs come courtesy of Bhangra pioneer Kuljit Bhamra. But, as admirable as this all is, I find myself wishing that Dillon would release the handbrake and create something more visceral. At EP length the airless feel of Dillon's production is curious and beguiling, but over the course of a forty-plus minute album you start to feel alienated by this insular music. The aforementioned Treanor has shown us how to balance academic rigour with rave immediacy many times over - Dillon would do well to resist poring over her material quite as much in future.
Highly respected producer and DJ Beatrice Dillon lands on PAN for an album fusing computer music, international rhythms and various strains of UK club music styles into a record that’s fun and infectious. ‘Workaround’ is an immaculately produced carnival of sleek, pristine computer/electronic rhythms running consistently at 150bm.
Her grooves are spiced up with an adventurous range of vibrant, colourful samples sourced from friends including; Laurel Halo, Batu, Untold, Lucy Railton etc. Comparisons to Mark Fell/SND are valid as she appears to be working in a similar mode i.e exploring the possibilities and seemingly endless permutations with the confines of self-imposed parameters. However, it’s her sound palette that really separates her from Fell and peers like Rian Treanor and Gabor Lazar. Her disciplined technique really works as she’s very much managed to hone her very own sound - one that is crisp and gleams yet has organic splashes which stop it being too sterile, cold and purely machine-like. There’s a remarkable high definition clarity to these tracks that veer from DJ friendly dancefloor tools to shorter, weirder cuts that break things up nicely.
A refreshingly playful album that sounds like she had great fun in the London, New York and Berlin studios she used to create this weird, mutant clicks ‘n’ cuts insectoid techno jazz or whatever you wanna call it.
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