May 15, 2009 by DJ Elroy
Release Date: June 15, 2009
“A Collection of Scars & Situations” is the debut artist album from Liverpool’s likeliest lad of dance, Yousef. As a globetrotting DJ of over ten years Yousef has ignited the world over, first with his famous residency at Cream and now his own internationally acclaimed promotion Circus, a monthly gathering of the who’s who of modern electronic music. This album sees Yousef finally lay down on wax a watermark of his effervescent personality, showcasing the different dynamics to his sound as a performer alongside material more reflective of the man away from the booth.
So what for the stuff you already know? Well the slew of singles that marked the early signs of the album have continued to create a fervent level of interest from the glitterati of house and techno DJs. Carl Cox, Laurent Garnier, Nick Curly, Nic Fanciuilli, James Zabiela and John Digweed are all impassioned Yousef supporters. Present and correct is the acid fuelled nightmare ‘Letter to No One’, alongside the snaking funk of ‘In Parliament’.
Elsewhere there’s some gloriously ebullient freshness in the brand new club bangers. ‘I Suggest’ boasts some gloriously frenetic percussion, jettisoning an illegible vocal against the clunking tribal drums. ‘Equilibrium’ comes on hard as a modern powerhouse of cold clinical techno, whilst ‘Fun Whore’ resonates with the electronic tomfoolery that epitomises Circus, a slab of wild carnival techno. And ‘Anti Hero’ stands as a melodic snapshot of main room intensity; layering futuristic effects over a section of gentle Detroit inspired chords and arpeggiated synths. It’s blissful abandon and marks the ray of sunshine bursting through the album’s predominantly dark outlook.
There’s also efforts made to strike beyond the club arena, taking the album out of a DJ led tour de force and into the realms of that murky district often labelled as ‘proper’. But rather than some tacked on beatless numbers working as an after thought, Yousef’s efforts compliment the sound he’s crafted with ease. The haunting space that emanates on ‘Birthday Thoughts’ adds a black undercurrent to the hedonism that ripples through the rest of the release, whilst ‘A Moment of Clarity’ has a warmer effect with its focus on melody. Yet this is done with the track grimacing through a bleak outlook, marrying a melancholy breakdown with sharp and gritty drums to create an UNKLE esque vibe.
Like every release there’s a story behind the fabric of what Yousef has tried to do, nowhere better illustrated than on ‘Africa’. A holiday in Gambia this year was supposed to be a period of relaxation and escape from the grind of musical solidity that defines the daily life of Yousef, but instead one impromptu session saw a jam with three musicians build the parts from which this dreamy yet powerful groove originated.
That’s not the only collaboration. The superb ‘Legacy’ has none other than jacking house doyen Derrick Carter on vocal duties, his presence adding a weighty edge to an already superb piece of music. Perfectly redolent of the fizzing energy that characterised the American sounds that fed his initial artistic inspiration in the mid nineties, it still sounds like a twenty first century tech house master class, serving as arguably the standout of the release.
And as for the album’s legacy as a whole? It encapsulates everything that is Yousef in 2009, skull crushing techno alongside hip shaking house grooves and moments of melancholy reflection bursting out of the madness. It’s reflective of the times we live in, dripping with hope, paranoia and hedonistic allure. Beyond the man, this is twenty first century electronica in full technicolour.