Day by day, the memories of past club nights seem to be fading from our collective consciousness. The thought of being in a densely packed room with a pounding sound system is something that feels long removed, both physically and culturally. Every once in a while, though, a song comes along that instantly transports you back to those simpler times. With a recognizable sample and relentless four-to-the-floor break, Placid One’s “Liquid Crystals,” releasing on Gestalt Records, does exactly that. Its combination of dancefloor nostalgia with sublime production and an entrancing acid line will stay with you well after the needle leaves the record.
Placid One is no stranger to atmospheric breaks. Previous releases have seen him lend his hand to genres as wide-ranging as gorgeous downtempo jams to jungle-inspired rave, which he is able to skillfully draw parallels between through his signature broken rhythms and somber lead melodies. This release sits firmly between those two styles at a cool 134bpm. Designed with the club in mind, it still holds enough emotional weight to warrant repeated listens in a home setting.
The track clocks in at just over six minutes and boasts a couple of tasteful breakdowns. The uplifting synth line weaves in and out of the mix but never overstays its welcome, allowing the pounding percussion and morphing 303 line to dictate the energy and momentum of the track. What really stands out here are the vocals. Standing in direct contrast to the moody atmosphere of the instrumental, a repeated interpolation of Loleatta Holloway’s “I’m gon’ diss you” sample—made famous by the likes of Bicep and Armando in recent years. The juxtaposition of this iconic old-school vocal against Placid One’s ultra-modern sound design and signature drum programming result in a record that oozes dancefloor nostalgia.
One of five tracks on his forthcoming “HPU013 EP”, each one demonstrates Placid One’s penchant for club-driven rhythms skewed through a diverse, multifaceted approach to production. In the context of the EP, the traditional 4/4 structure of “Liquid Crystals” will likely make this the weapon of choice for DJs. The track sits alongside a break heavy UKG-inspired stomper (“HPU013”), an electro-infused acid workout (“Reinelda”), and the fantastically-titled “CocoFishTrap”— an enthralling IDM track demonstrating his remarkable ability for combining complex drum programming with mesmerizing ambient soundscapes.
The more adventurous DJs out there may look to reach for “Seaweeds”, with its off-kilter breakbeat patterns drawing similarities to the likes of leftfield-techno favorites Overmono. For the most part, though, the gripping energy of “Liquid Crystals” four-to-the-floor groove—combined with its understated yet enchanting aura and tried-and-tested vocal—distinguishes this track as the most viable peak-time candidate for when sweaty basement clubs once again open their doors.