A POSITIVE SWEAT
ALBUM RECORDINGS OF SUBSTANCE RELEASE: SUMMER 1999 REVIEW: JULY 22, 1999
Blending jungle and jazz was a huge thing back in the days when techno
culture was at its strongest. Englishmen like LTJ Bukem were, and
still are, as far as I know, making modern music in the vein of jazz
experimentalists such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Some of the music
was brilliant, but a lot of it sounded too mathematical. Everything was programmed, calculated, precise and, well,
boring. You ached for somebody to come crashing into the studio, smash a
guitar against the wall and yell "let's rock!".
James Hardway a k a David Harrow manages to evade this problem. On his
third album "A Positive Sweat", under this alias, the breakbeats are kept in
the background. The live instruments, especially the saxophone, are in the
lead together with occasional relaxed female vocals. Apparently much of the
material was initially recorded live and then manipulated in various ways.
While the record has a pleasant live sound, it's groove is that of a
chainsmoking bar pianist, rather than that of a rockband (and don't ask me
how you chainsmoke and play piano at the same time). James
Hardway doesn't disturb in any way. If you want to listen to his music, it's there in all
its elegance, but if you're not concentrating, it keeps gently in the
background. The perfect kind of music for nightclubs, in other words.
As a creator of electronic music since 1983, Harrow has over the years managed
to work closely with Psychic TV, Jah Wobble and Andy Weatherall. As well as
contributing to the work by everybody from Atari Teenage Riot to Depeche Mode.
Now might be a good time to give this "man behind the scenes" some credit of