After Dark: Nightshift is the latest release from Late Night Tales stable and the second instalment from Bill Brewster under his After Dark banner. The first After Dark album came out a little over a year ago and focused on exactly what Brewster does well - carefully curated songs brought together to make you move. I wrote a brief summary of Brewster's history in that original review so I recommend checking it out if you want to know more.
Nightshift attempts to continue that journey with a fairly extensive 18-track selection that spans from Typesun through to Justus Köhncke via Emperor Machine. The whole point of these albums is the rareness of the tracks and the flow and journey of the album listening experience - the latter being something that isn't fully realised in the unmixed MP3 promo version I was supplied.
The first After Dark album cunningly weaved in a couple of rare mixes of tracks you may know but to my ear Nightshift doesn't have anything you are likely to have heard, making it a exploratory listen. Particularly in unmixed form, at 110-minutes, it feels a little overwhelming - something that is sure to be addressed in the shorter mixed form available once the album is released.
But Brewster knows his onions, and there are some gems to discover. Neurotic Erotic Adventure by the Neurotic Drum Band is a bizarre electronic funk disco number full of swirling disco strings and robotic voices. Day Outside's Faraway Sensation is a elastic Madchester sounding indie punk-funk shuffle. Not Yet Not Yet from Crowdpleaser & ST Plomb jiggles with an overtly confident strut, analogue bass and a swinging percussion line bumping up against funky synths as vocals pay tribute to a variety of classic tracks.
But it feels like for every strong cut there is another here that is filler. Köhncke's Tell Me is gloriously warm and starry-eyed, but it is bookended by relatively flabby moments in Asadinho's Haiku and Daniele Patucchi's People Come In... And these are just a couple of examples. Some of this is undoubtedly addressed by Brewster's DJ mixed version, but it begs the question why the version previewed is unmixed.
After Dark: Nightshift ends with General Lee's Magic, a swirling and psychedelic disco soul prog-rock track that is everything Brewster can deliver... Entrancing, surprising and beautiful. It's just a shame there wasn't more music here as surprising and enjoyable.