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"WHAT is Eno doing?": Brian Eno and Karl Hyde, Route 94, How to Dress Well and more reviewed in the FACT Singles Club

Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

With the way individual tracks are now consumed, the idea of what constitutes a single has shifted dramatically in the last half a decade, and its for this reason that the songs reviewed across the next pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. All are treated equally – well, most of the time. On the chopping block this week, Brian Eno and Karl Hyde, Route 94, Gage and more.

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Route 94 feat. Jess Glynne – ‘My Love’


Joe Muggs: So this is definitely Dream, right? His dubstep stuff was outstanding – even if he always did have a cheesy streak a mile wide. This is pretty disappointing, it could be so much more lavish given all the elements, but it’s OK. Piano house at number one in the charts is always nice, but are people really going to remember this as an epochal moment? No. (5)

Chal Ravens: S’alright in the car I expect. I haven’t got a car. (5)

Chis Kelly: Pretty standard issue pop-house fare. Unoffensive and a bit unremarkable if not for its chart-topping success. I prefer his production for Katy B, ‘Everything’ — this type of track needs more personality on vocals. (5)

John Twells: Inoffensive nostalgia-drenched generic dance that’ll be rinsed on some fucking “yoof” TV nonsense in a couple of weeks. Yawn. (4)

Tam Gunn: Not as good as Clean Bandit. (6)

Scott Wilson: Probably the most depressing thing about listening to this is the slow realisation that this is just the tip of the iceberg of ubiquitous, bland post-Disclosure house music, and the only thing I can say in defense of ‘My Love’ is that things are clearly going to get much worse than this before they get any better. Furthermore, the video, which is clearly some focus group idea of an “underground” dance party in 2014, is just plain seedy. (2) 


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How to Dress Well – ‘Words I Don’t Remember’

Audio here


Scott Wilson: I’ve never really been able to connect with How To Dress Well’s brand of self-consciously introspective brand of R&B, mainly because the self-consciously muddy sound just acted as a barrier to my enjoyment. This however, is a real surprise; the lyrics may be cliched and the but the newfound clarity in his vocals may give it a mid-90s US boyband feel, but to be honest that’s all part of the charm. (8)

Chal Ravens: Oh, boohoo mate. (2)

John Twells: How To Dress Well finally goes all the way with this one, and I’m not mad at all. Sure it’s not as ragged and charming as his earlier stuff, but this is cracking silky-smooth r&b, and now I’m dying to hear the full-length. (7)

Tam Gunn: I dunno, this narrative that HTDW is stepping out from the Sonic Mist of his previous work or whatever – is that really true? Anyone who’s seen him live knows he can bang it out, and I’ve never thought his music was half as witchy / misty as people liked to make out – it was more like someone who wanted to do Jodeci but hadn’t had the opportunity yet. The chopping on the chorus could’ve been done better, but generally speaking this is class. (7)

Chris Kelly: Tom Krell continues to unravel the gauze that characterized his earlier material, but without sacrificing his sonic quirkiness. A real slow-burner that rewards if you stick with it, but could definitely use a radio/club edit. (7)

Joe Muggs: Is anyone else getting strong George Michael vibes from this? That’s not a put-down, mind: Georgios is a one of the greats. This is really nice, but somehow feels wrong in the spring sunshine – it’s a bit more Xmas single. (7)


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Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – ‘The Satellites’

Audio here


John Twells: I hope the intern who produced this at least got some free drugs. (1)

Scott Wilson: I have long suspected that Brian Eno’s contribution to music has been vastly overestimated by musical history, and this abomination pretty much proves it. Everything about this song, from the MIDI horns and tinny drums to flat vocals, is irredeemably dreadful. Was this made entirely using Garageband? (0)

Chal Ravens: So after 40-odd years of fiddling around with ambient experiments, African rhythms and self-generating systems, Eno’s finally pulled the Oblique Strategies card that reads, ‘Fuck it, just use the presets’. But does it bring a smile to my face? Yes, and by the fourth go-round I’m actually quite charmed by its faux-naïf aesthetic. Why not. (5)

Joe Muggs: What the everliving fuck is with those midi preset trumpets? And the parping sax things? The drums are a bit shit too. I don’t get it. Is there some conceptual framework that explains why it’s all just silly noises? I think there’s actually the core of something really nice in there – I absolutely loved KH’s solo album, more than I’ve liked anything from Underworld for years in fact, and I can hear the same songwriting skill going on in here… somewhere… but just… just… WHAT is Eno doing?! (4)

Tam Gunn: You know when you listen to something and you think ‘well, actually, I could do this’? That doesn’t need to be a bad thing, but when it’s a Brian Eno track that seems pretty lame, doesn’t it? That said, nobody admits it but bar the odd moment he’s been crap for years. Hyde’s the best thing about this by a distance. (4)


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Jon Porras – ‘Apeiron’


Joe Muggs: Instant reload. Bloody lovely. Subterranean sexytime blues. (8)

Chal Ravens: If the weekend has whittled you into a husk of a person (that’s not me, necessarily, just theoretically), this otherwise nondescript ambient fog attains the power of velveteen swaddling bands. Almost enough to take the terror away. (6)

Scott Wilson: There’s no denying the lush, cinematic approach Jon Porras takes here is beguiling in its own way, with a sinister Badalamenti-esque undercurrent that ups the atmosphere considerably, but it’s not the kind of thing I can see myself returning to. (5)

John Twells: Synthy, dubby, and liable to give you floppy neck quicker than a bottle of overproof rum, this is exactly what I want on the tail end of winter. Sounds like Biokinetics with the space heater on full or Apollo with some sassy sidechain. Yes please. (7) 


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Gage – ‘Telo’


Chris Kelly: Finally! This one’s been banging around (quite literally) for a few months now, and its grime-meets-industrial techno stutter-step is stunning. Both sides of the single are ready for war. (9)

Tam Gunn: It’s for DJs, and as nice as it is to have the second drop, it’s one to level a floor with then mix out of. Nothing wrong with that at all. (8)

Joe Muggs: Yes yes yes yes. Makes me feel like responding age inappropriately. Music to pogo to in high resolution. Boing boing boing boing. Let’s go. (8)

John Twells: I can’t say anything negative about this – the shuffled beat, searing FM synth, neck snapping snare… it’s just thumbs up all around. Every time I spin it I end up bumping it twice just to make sure. (10)

Scott Wilson: The drums and synth blast on this are snappy as hell, and there’s no denying that in the right kind of club situation this would do the business, but there are producers out there doing far wilder stuff with grime than this. (6)


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Slava – ‘Balance’


Chal Ravens: Not a head-turner but effective enough in a set I’m sure. The Todd Terje-esque one-finger synth melody is cheesy but cute. (5)

Chris Kelly:More straight-forward than last year’s footwork deconstructions, ‘Better’ finds the Russian-born producer with his eye on wobbly bassline house. Bonus points for the cover art. (6)

John Twells: What a bassline will do eh? Might not be the most exciting track in the world but with a cheeky, wobbly low end that sounds as if it just sidled out of a Huddersfield back alley I’ll take what I can get. (6)

Scott Wilson: There’s not really all that much to separate this from Route 94’s ‘My Love’ – both are fairly poppy takes on ‘90s house with fairly well-worn modern production techniques – but there’s just something a great deal more subversive about what Slava’s doing on ‘Better’. That bassline and melody feel like something lifted straight from a classic UK funky track with a rhythmic snap that’s pure Jersey club, which I’ll take over limp chart house any day. (7)

Tam Gunn: Wobble that doesn’t wobble, pianos that never soars – let’s face it, if this was Breach you’d all slag it off. (4)

Joe Muggs: This one probably demands exotic and dangerous research chemicals to get into properly, because the subliminal sounds in it are pretty hallucinatory, but without them it is more smart, stylish, tasteful, modish, housey-housey business – there’s not really THAT big a distance between this and the Route 94 track, much as I’m sure a certain segment of cool kids very desperately want there to be. (6)


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Final scores:

Gage – ‘Telo’ (8.2)
Jon Porras – ‘Apeiron’ (6.5)
How to Dress Well – ‘Words I Don’t Remember’ (6.4)
Slava – ‘Balance’ (5.6)
Route 94 feat. Jess Glynne – ‘Your Love’ (4.2)
Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – ‘The Satellites’ (2.8)

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