This release from Night Plane represents a an interesting first, coming out as it does on a brand new label within the Wolf + Lamb stable. Heartbeat represents the debut release from one Soul Clap Records.
Night Plane is Brooklynite William Rauscher and this EP shows off his broad range of abilities, from crunchy grunge guitars and indie-cool through to deep electronic house.
The title track, 'Heartbeat', has a surpringly loose, live feel to it. Looping drums and a scratchy, bluesy guitar line open the door on a song that aims straight for the midpoint between rock and dance. Long-time, friend of Rauscher, Casey Gibbs provides the slightly yobish vocals and a fair amount of attitude.
Next up, 'Foreign Affairs' is a much slower, gentler ride. Vocals fade in and out of the mix whilst a series of warm melodies are built from layers of guitars. It's a stark contrast to that opening track but it captures a sense of useless yearning that stems from love divided by distance and sets the tone and pace for what follows across this EP.
Perhaps most intriguing on this EP is the cover of 90s slacker-indie legends Pavement's 'Gold Soundz'. Pavement aren't the sort of band that frequently get referenced by DJs and electronic producers so it's unusual to hear their music re-imagined in this way... In fact covers of Pavement seem to be fairly rare full-stop. At this point I have to confess a little worry as to how this version would turn out, but the fact that the vocals are provided by Heather D'Angelo of Au Revoir Simone suggests a fair amount of indie sophistication. The result is thick, warm, starry-eyed and full of teenaged wonder and it feels destined to soundtrack the sunrise after a long evening of excitement. Malkmus would almost certainly hate it, but leave the baggage of the source material behind and it's a pretty track.
D'Angelo remains on vocal duties for 'Gates Of Dawn', a slightly deeper warm house track. The title suggests it is aimed at those moments of darkness just before the sun breaks and the beautiful swirling sound is a perfect fit. Shimmering guitar licks, D'Angelo's trademark deadpan vocals and occasional warm keys create an emotive soundscape. It's the electronics and deep drum kick that gives the track its feel though, the sense of surviving a long night.
Remixes of 'Gates Of Dawn' come from Wolf + Lamb and Burning Man. Wolf + Lamb stay faithful and just give things a bit more treble, more melodic bass and a snare. The Burning Man mix is also fairly straight with the original, with a dark acid bass that contrasts to a vocal placed higher in the mix and greater prominence for the keys.
Heartbeat is a promising EP, not just for Night Plane but for the entire Soul Clap Records proposition. Intelligent, soulful dance music with indie references? I'll gladly take it if it stays this cool.
Heartbeat is out now on Soul Clap Records, available from Amazon.co.uk on MP3 [affiliate link]. Listen via Spotify below: