London promoter Let’s Go Swimming has been going strong for a year now, with a string of well-curated parties under its belt at Stoke Newington’s The Waiting Room. With bookings like Bruce, DJ Sotofett and Beatrice Dillon the team leans towards leftfield house and techno talent, a taste mirrored in the releases on their fledgling label. Each of the four records to date has invited a relative newcomer to the table and the first of 2017 comes from local producer Octo Champ.
Not Quite Here Yet offers a quartet of mellow house cuts, clearly indebted to the soulful club stylings of Detroit’s old guard. The richness and warmth of Octo Champ’s production impresses, particularly on opener Rent, where a muted organ lends a melancholy tint to the downtrodden arrangement. Said You Were and Alleluia have more bounce to them, sporting firm basslines and busy, clattering drumtracks, but they’re still relaxed – neither quite raises the energy beyond warm-up territory. In Its Spell closes the record in wispy style, a jazzy noodle content to stroll along with a slight lilt to its piano riff.
You don’t have to be from Detroit to make this sound work – Motor City Drum Ensemble proved that an outsider can make music to rival Moodymann or Theo Parrish. Yet that was by bringing new ideas to the table – Octo Champ’s EP has something of a tribute act quality to it, the work of a talented producer who will need to move away from his source material to really stand out.