Saturday, 5 November 2016

Leo Gunn – Journey Inwards – Deep Explorer

LEO Gunn releases are like the proverbial London bus. No, not dangerous at night with a whiff of stale urine up top, but nothing for ages then two come along together.

In fairness, there is some method in the madness of the folk responsible for this, the brothers Alvarez [aka Dubbyman and Above Smoke] at Deep Explorer who have developed, encouraged and nurtured the precious talent of the enigmatic Gunn. In return, the Adelaide-based producer is fiercely loyal to the label and a deep explorer through and through.

So what’s the deal? Simple really, Gunn returns to the fold with an anticipated mini album for the Madrid-based imprint, plus there’s a tasty two-track bonus 7” available too for those who crave even more Gunn fire.

First up, the longer player then. It’s a handsome beast, visually and musically. Those of us who snapped up any of Gunn’s earlier exceptional EPs on Deep Explorer and appreciate his natural, almost organic, style will not be disappointed. Journey Inwards is very much the sequel.

Dreamy and melodic soundscapes with a hint of Larry Heard-style jazz – in the loosest sense – are very much Gunn’s stock-in-trade, which makes Leo & Leo Jr. the perfect scene-setting opener. From Old sports the jazz motif too, another beautifully harmonious and ear-pleasing piece with a touch of Mr Fingers coursing through its grooves.

Deep Breath has that satisfyingly wistful and mood-setting air that Gunn excels in, but this time with extra beef; not quite dance floor hedonism but no comfy sofa number either. And although perhaps still in warm-up territory, the lush and lengthy title track also has a more urgent kick and intent, whilst skilfully still mining a pensive, faraway seam. It’s proper deep house, as it should be.

Digital vs Midi is another super cut expertly straddling that fine line between feet-moving and head-nodding fodder. So why not try both? Home Base presents no such ambiguity. It’s about as full-on dance floor material as Gunn gets, punchy and purposeful from start to finish.

As for the aptly-named Bonus Tracks on seven inches of vinyl, well, it’s a joyous little something extra for aficionados of Gunn and Deep Explorer. Voodoo and Moondub are easily a match for anything on the album and may even, for my money at least, be the pick of this classy collection. The former is a gentle, soothing and spaced-out production that is so easy on the ears and soul. It’s right up there with Gunn’s best work. The gorgeous and trippy Moondub, as the name suggests, takes inspiration from cavernous, echoing piano soundscapes. Four and a half minutes of bliss.

Best part of two years since Gunn’s last release. Worth the wait then? It was never in doubt.

Check out:

Journey Inwards @ Juno
Bonus Tracks @ Juno
Leo Gunn @ SoundCloud
Deep Explorer online

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