The man commonly regarded as the greatest house producer ever doesn’t have much left to prove. That’s why it seemed to make sense more than ten years ago when Larry Heard seemed to retire his Mr. Fingers alias. So when it was announced that a new Fingers 12” was coming, there was a little trepidation mixed in with the excitement. Would he sound dated now? Not even Heard’s productions from thirty years ago sound dated. Or maybe Heard would try and modernise his sound, losing something essential in the process?
We shouldn’t have doubted. Heard’s latest EP, like much of his best music, sits outside of time. These galactic transmissions have all the subtlety, feeling and groove of his best work. First cut Outer Acid is subdued but abounds in gorgeous details, from the gentle modulations of its gossamer pads to the slight spasms that seize the coiled 303 towards the track’s end. It sets the listener in a trippy headspace, primed for highlight Qwazars which follows. Here the pulse quickens, sharp snares and a frayed synth motif flitting over a sea of sifting melodies and ambience. Yet even when he gestures towards the club Heard never abandons the heart – the downcast piano motif packs a surprising emotional punch.
Heard’s musicality shines bright across the release; his compositions are stuffed with shifting melodies and rhythmic subtleties yet always gel harmoniously. Nodyahed builds over a metallic, African-influenced rhythm to deliver the most club-focused track of the 12”, but it pales next to the gorgeous ambient house of Aether, where the kick is swaddled in pillows of ambience and a dubby bassline.
While he’s charted more emotional terrain than most electronic producers, Heard still sounds best at his most melancholy. The complex landscape of longing and doubt is where this EP finds its home, and the sumptuous details of these tracks ought to ensure their longevity. He’s still got it.