Not content with jump starting a whole sub culture in early eighties Bristol as part of the legendary Wild Bunch crew, DJ Nature (or Dj Milo as he was known then) kept moving, both geographically and artistically, and spent time working and touring with the likes of Public Enemy, Tricky, Adrian Sherwood and Neneh Cherry in Europe and Japan, before he eventually moved to New York in 1989. In NY, hes spent the intervening years gradually developing a style of production so warm, so soulfully off kilter that youd be forgiven for hearing one of his tracks and thinking it was a lost Moodymann or Theo Parrish. Applying a layered, sample led approach to pitched down House music and working with soloists to add a touch of class (and Jazz) to the final production, DJ Nature serves his moniker well - the end result is something that sounds overwhelmingly, well, natural.
Everything about Return of the Savage harks back to an older, better time. From the approach of the label Golf Channel in sending out vinyl promos for review, to the way the LP is structured - in the classic album sense that all the tracks come together to form the whole: almost best designed to be consumed in one sitting. The production is so dusty it feels like it could almost have come off an old four track, and I mean that in the best possible sense - it properly breathes. Its a beautiful record, chaotic in places, strangely mixed in others, but it feels gloriously human and overall its the kind of LP that is all too rare these days - the sound of an artist doing their own thing, developing their own craft away from the bright lights and glare of scenes/fashions/cliques.
The album is a real musical gumbo: imbued with the spirit of hip hop and underpinned by soul and funk but with the overall feeling of house music, and, to my ears, specifically the detroit variety. All sorts of stuff bubbles away underneath the raw, chunky drum machines - sometimes dubby as on The Dream; jazz steeped as on the spoken word infused Real Talk; and with an almost eighties R&B feeling on the bumpy With Your Body.
Although the two albums are stylistically very different, Return of The Savage reminds me most of De La Souls most out there moment - The Buhloone Mindset LP, in that the textural, patchwork of samples from which Return of The Savage is built up feels in constant danger of completely falling apart, before a new musical element is introduced, just as it all unravels, that yolks the whole piece together and locks the track into another, previously unrealized groove. Its a difficult trick to pull off and one that Dj Nature performs numerous times, on one the best albums Ive heard this year so far. Standout tracks for me are With Your Body and Sexual Tension Scene 2 but the whole album is worthy of praise, its a gem.
By Joe Evans (Ransom Note)