It's hard to describe an artist like ADAM GRACE as he's one of those versatile producers & DJ's who always finds ways to continually push himself and innovate his sound past extremes that he may have already explored. His career has continually been defined by his ability to be malleable, as he's primarily lent his skills to other people for their various creative pursuits, but his debut record under his name, Adam Grace, sees him put all of that aside.
His last release was another LP, and that was under his DJ Tokoloshe moniker back in 2000, which won the 3D World Magazine award for Best Breaks Album for that year. Since then, he's been quietly chipping away behind the scenes, working alongside Baz Luhrman as Music Programmer & Producer for the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's seminal text The Great Gatsby, programmed the music for the Sydney Mardi Gras in 2014 and has experience working at local studios like Trackdown Studios & Studio 301.
For the better part of the last ten years, Grace has been out finding his sound, discovering new ones and learning along the way. He spent some time revisiting his home in South Africa and then for a time, moved to London, Brisbane, Melbourne and then back to Sydney. He's held DJ residencies at places like Asylum in London, Family & the Met in Brisbane, all of the Keystone venues which includes Darling Harbour's Cargo Bar and more.
So to sum, he's been damn busy. But the common theme amongst all of this seems to be him lending his skills to others through programming, producing and engineering. Which is why his new record POLYMATHEMATICS is such a special release. Not only is this an album, but rather it's a document of the last ten years of his life outside of his creating for others.
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It's a project that's solely his and sees him stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight to showcase some of the work he's been chipping away at since his days as DJ Tokoloshe in the early 2000's. That in itself makes this record one to give your attention to, and as the Album Creation Rulebook™ continually changes with time, he's gone and thrown the damn book out the window altogether.
I mean for starters, it's forty tracks. Yes you read that correctly. 4-0. 40. These tracks all vary in length from little ditties like the downtempo, scratch-jazz of 'Quickly, damn it!' to the heavily mathematic breakbeat, drum & bass energy of odyssey 'Domino' all the way to full blown 25 minute mixes in 'Preacher (Mix A)' & 'Preacher (Mix B)'.
There could not have been a more apt name for this record than POLYMATHEMATICS. If we take it right back to the definition of the word polymath, we're left with a description of someone whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas. And that is exactly Adam Grace.
The record explores just about every corner of his mind, with complex sounds spanning just about every electronic genre packed in there.
The record's intro track 'Machine Men' is a fever dream of shrill strings, down-tempo house percussion and a frenzied vocal sample that ties this one altogether. Track three, 'Teddy's Revenge' throws back to the hey-day of the scratch era with chopped & skewed vocal samples, light trumpets and that wonky, high pitched melody.
Title track 'Polymathematics' takes us on a nine-minute journey through dense layers of live percussion that weave in and out of each other and tied together with that unforgettable vocal sample. This one in particular feels like a forgotten Groove Armada track.
'Hi, there' is break-beat heaven, with a real emphasis on the tracking of the kit. 'Dirt' fuses lasers with a dirty bassline, whilst 'Avon Lady' uses polyrhythm to build up layers of tribal percussion to drop into a definite haven of house music.
Just over the halfway point is 'Lose Your Love', a pitched-up soul track pumped with a light break beat and dotted with that classic Adam Grace brass. 'Cheap Date' is a big booty bass number with a shuffling beat, a dissonant, syncopated house piano and an array of chopped and skewed vocals.
'Die A Little' pairs high tempo jungle with a pulsing footwork-esque bassline. This one is the percussive jam on the record, taking that traditional jungle beat up a few notches with hectic cymbal rolls, drum fills and a high-pitched female vocal in there to make this one a track you'll want to move to. In the same vein, 'POTUS' is a heavy frenzy and even though it only clocks in at just over one minute, remains highly memorable.
The record begins to simmer down with 'Equal Pay', a down-tempo classic house number with beautifully sampled hi-pass filter strings that later eventuate into one that I can't wait to play out on a dancefloor sometime soon. And finally, we're left with the record's closing track, 'Fantasy'; a beautifully slow trip-hop number driven by a mid octave electric guitar, a soulful sample and leaving you in the record's end with traces of the vocal sample dotted slowly in the filtered out instrumental.
Grace's POLYMATHEMATICS is the result of ten years of work, but the record never feels period specific. His exploration of sounds right across the electronic music spectrum both sonically and historically leaves you with an understanding of the artist that you wouldn't have had without listening to the record. He's a complex artist with years of experience behind him, and it goes to show not only through his production skills, but his respect for the history of the music he's creating.
Go celebrate the launch of the record with him this Friday at Goodbar where he's enlisted an army of good pals to help him launch the record.
You can purchase Adam Grace's POLYMATHEMATICS record from his website here.
'POLYMATHEMATICS' ALBUM LAUNCH
Featuring Adam Grace, Hookie, Kato, Boogiemonster & DJ Sveta with Estee Louder
Friday, February 15
Facebook event here.
Words by CAITLIN MEDCALF