Mark E Mark EStone Breaker
In general, Mark E doesn’t sound as tough as on “Archway”. There’s a passionate but also puzzling, start, to an album that marks the debut of the man who, to many, is the real force in current disco music, that also marks a transition to a stage where the artist looks for, most of all, freedom. To get a general idea of Mark Evetts’ productions of the past few years, you only need to listen to the meaty and vibrant compilations released by his label, Merc, “Mark E Works 2005-2009. Selected Tracks & Edits” –on two volumes–, on which his deep-house and slo-disco edits are brought together. Now, however, the Birmingham producer has upped his speed, and his music is drenched in sounds that add thickness rather than space. He has gained muscle, like someone who’s spent hours lifting weights, but beware: we’re not talking about the explosiveness of a spring, but about a pinch to gain, most of all, stamina and resistance. “Stone Breaker”, a title that transmits an idea of brute force, is the Mark E but we know with new vitality.
The growth of energy is scarce but well positioned. At the end, “Black Moon”, which is his firmest incursion in techno, with its airs of Detroit, sounds like a tribute to Kevin Saunderson as E-Dancer –or to Claude Young, or to the times when Underground Resistance got rid of the electro and exercised a martial 4x4. It sounds like the broad motorway lanes full of cars in the early morning. But before and right after that – “Oranges”, “The Day” – you can recognise the Mark E who has become the hero of the demanding dance public and veteran purists. It’s unlikely that he has an audience of twenty-something year olds –his fans must be in their thirties (Mark E is purely adult-oriented), but if we understand that the reverence of the early days of Chicago and Detroit – via labels such as Rush Hour – is living some kind of golden age, then “Stone Breaker” is a winner.
Of all the retro waves flooding the house scene these days, Mark E’s contribution is the one that smells the least of camphor, which gives it and extraordinary value. There are subtle details that certify this high level: the super slow schaffel beat of “Black County Saga” – a cosmic revision of Cologne techno –, the hard funk with acid of “Belvide Beat” and various free spirited incursions in that silky, velvet house in the vein of artists from Larry Heard ( “Deny This”, “Got To Get Me There”) to 808 State ( “Oranges”) via a thousand more fleeting sensations. “Stone Breaker” isn’t a historical album in dance music terms, nor is it an encyclopaedia, but it chases the unmistakable spirit of 30 years of art. To look for flaws would be stupid.