Walker Barnard
Sweatshop Spaceship
[Serialism Records]

If anyone can lay claim to having a strong case of the “funk”, it’s Walker Barnard. The former bass player and undiscovered gem of underground house music is finally getting the recognition he deserves, and Sweatshop Spaceship, his latest release on the excellent Serialism Records is likely to help expand his fanbase.

Opening track The Long Count is a delightful deep tech house ride loaded with rolling percussion, funky low end, sexy chords, atmospheric effects and cheeky vocal loops. With its combination of a warm, rounded bassline, analogue synth sounds, and tight, precisely mixed drums, this one is perfect for lovers of both more contemporary, clean tech house and early, more rugged and raw vibes.

Sweatshop Spaceship, featuring the vocal talents of Jamie Graham, amps up the funk factor and combines it with hypnotic grooves to create a deceptively driving monster. Barnard’s classic soul and funk influences are readily apparent: the bassline is an actual bass guitar and the drums are programmed for maximum swing and shuffle. Combine this excellent starting point with Jamie Graham’s improvised crooning, filtered stabs and dusty horn samples and you’ve got as close to sexual as dance music can get.

Inxec’s remix of Sweatshop Spaceship swaps the original’s organic sound for a much more quirky and mechanical style of funk, switching up the bassline’s sequencing, replacing the drums with clicky kicks and raspy hats, claps and snares, as well as replaying some of the samples and chords from the original with new synth sounds. Graham’s vocals are virtually untouched, which is great as these were such an integral part of the original version, and they suit Inxec’s techier interpretation just as well.

Two digital-only exclusive, Mothership Wreck and an extended version of Sweatshop Spaceship are also included for bonus value. Mothership Wreck is a dark, brooding and bizarre slice of house, which manages to blend sinister synths, down-tuned vocals and grimey bass with loose, heavily reverbed drum loops, warbled laser sounds and uplifting pads.

A chameleon of a track if one ever existed, and while not something that will appeal to everyone, anyone with a taste for something a little bit different is likely to eat this up. The extended edit of Sweatshop Spaceship essentially strips-back the original to a simple kick-snare percussive loop, accompanied by the bassline, and occasional snippets of the vocal and chord stabs.

Listen to Walker Barnard on Pulse Radio.