Sir Stephen Sir StephenBy Design EP
100% SILK (SILK007, 12”)
Not much is known about Sir Stephen. Before going solo he was in Manchild, an obscure band that mixed video game music with visceral punk (something like Green Day doing “Prince Of Persia”). He released his first single in 2004, when he was still operating according to the logic of hard-core, translated by malfunctioning machines. Then there was silence (which was relative, as nobody missed him). When he resurfaced last year with the 12” “Pagan Future EP” on W.T. Records, it was as if a debutant had entered the scene, hungry for notoriety. On that single, things had already changed completely; his sound was now that of primitive house. Now this “By Design EP”- on the small but spectacular Not Not Fun dance sub-label - should set off all the alarm bells: this guy knows what he's doing, he does a fantastic job and his releases should be on every old school dance lover's wish-list. This sounds like it's the summer of 1990 all over again, when E was still E and raves were going on in the fields.
Sir Stephen sounds like Chicago at the end of the eighties, but readapted for British triumph a little later: “By Design” and “Move That Body” - the first tracks and the ones setting the general pace of the record (both on side A) - have the same incisive piano as Inner City's “Good Life” (without vocal). They possess the same breezy coming and going of deep house synth layers and the classic and virtuous groove box rhythms of early Detroit classics. Sir Stephen conceives techno and house as museum material, he dissects and fossilises it and presents it as if it were the reissue of a forgotten classic (like one of the unreleased tracks from the recent Virgo 4 box set). Sure, you can say he's a raving nostalgic, a conservator who doesn't create, but rather than the retro attitude - it's the result that counts. Listen to “Public Style” (which could be by A Guy Called Gerald or BFC) and you'll wet your pants; play “Milk N Honey” (a flying deep house classic at only a few weeks old) and you'll thank the heavens; dance to “NY Boogie” (a tribute to late eighties freestyle electro) and you'll believe that Sir Stephen is the best thing that has happened to you this month.
* Listen here