Heist Recordings has been pushing the envelope for house music since day one and we’re always on the lookout for artists that represent our vision on electronic music. Our next guest on the label fits that profile and more. He is the embodiment of modern-day electronic funk and a true wizard on the keys: Atlanta raised cool guy Byron the Aquarius.
Byron has a solid history on the label: He remixed Parker Madicine back in 2017 and did a mad solo on the 2019 released Dam Swindle track ‘The life behind things’. We’ve done some shows together and stayed in touch while Byron was working together with Jeff Mills on his 2020 jazz crossover record ‘Ambrosia’ on Axis. Now, after a solid string of releases on labels like Shall not Fade and Purveyor Underground, Byron is making his solo appearance on Heist. His ‘Akira’ EP goes from dark basement grooves to dreamy broken beats and features a remix by New York dance music wizard Kush Jones.
The Akira EP kicks off with ‘I love yo’. In this track, Byron decides to leave his keys at home and goes in deep with a moody club workout. ‘I love yo’ is a track that juxtaposes dreamy samples with rough percussion and vocal chops with a clear nod to the work of Mr. G. The melody is mellow, but don’t be deceived; clever drum programming and plenty of sub take this track into the club vibe just the way Byron likes it: warm, hazy and sexy AF.
Byron is not known for delivering straightforward house tunes, but when he does deliver them, he does it in style. Enter ‘Get up’; the A2 of the EP. There’s everything we love about house music: smart vocal chops, driving percussion, classic house keys and a booming sub to get you bumping to this beat.
The B-side sees Byron up the tempo and take a deep dive into bass territory with ‘Love’. In this track, there’s lush pads running over a percussive broken beat and chopped R ’n B vocals to add some serious sex appeal. It’s deceptively simple and clean but ever so catchy, which clearly shows Byron’s prowess as an electronic music producer.
Going back to classic house mode, we’ve got ‘Success’: A spoken word house track that fits right in with the classics. Byron sets the mood with some bumpy key-and synth work while brainstorming about originality and blackness throughout the track. Even though the message underneath might be a serious one, Byron succeeds in delivering this in a fun, uplifting way that never gets pretentious or divisive.
The EP finishes with a remix by New Yorker Kush Jones. This is an artist who understands how to build a groove. He could take you anywhere from house to juke, footwork and techno, which is exactly why he’s been getting so much love for his music recently. Kush is an artist who sees no boundaries in his music and still manages to create his own sonic universe. His remix of ‘I love yo’ takes a dreamy approach with soft chords running over an electronic groove with a pure and improvised feel. All elements fit together perfectly and it’s the clever ad-hoc programming and arrangement that suck you into his unbounded world from the first beat.
As always, enjoy the music and play it loud.
Maarten & Lars
A1 – Byron the Aquarius – I love yo
A2 – Byron the Aquarius – Get up
B1 – Byron the Aquarius – Love
B2 – Byron the Aquarius – Success
B3 – Byron the Aquarius – I love yo (Kush Jones remix)
Catalogue Number: heist065