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JUAN RAMOS / CHANGING HANDS / ESP INSTITUTE

You might think you know what you’re going to be getting from Berlin-based, Cocktail D’Amore mainstay Juan Ramos on this, his debut long player. Well you, my friend, might just be wrong, as this is an altogether deeper, introspective and earthy experience than we expected. And all the better for it.

For the most part Juan eschews house and techno tropes and links back to his b-boy past – the backbone of this LP is hip-hop, albeit in a hallucinogenic / no-wave / art funk style. This is fragmented, patchwork stuff with sounds, words and phrases looped, repeated, fucked with and set against loping breakbeats, often seemingly on the verge of collapse whilst wild shit goes on in the stereo field. This is personal too. Juan is bearing his soul it would seem, although in an oblique game of hide-and-seek with the listener. Now you understand him, now you don’t.

If this all sounds dense and somewhat claustrophobic, well, to a degree it is. However Ramos is canny enough to allow a light and a lightness of touch to illuminate proceedings. The production whilst busy and changeable retains space and clarity. As such the LP is heavy but never heavy-going fo the listener. This is a brave and confident debut full-length from an artist ready to show us his breadth. He saves the vaguest nod to the dancefloor for the last track, a nice reminder of the Juan Ramos we’ve seen on 12″ before and no doubt will again.

‘Changing Hands’ is out now on ESP Institute 

 

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