It does Neil Halstead a huge disservice to refer to him, even if it's not out loud, as 'that guy from Slowdive' , or anything to that effect. Halstead has demonstrated, quite adeptly, that he is far more content basking in Mojave 3's country-folk vibes. It's an aesthetic he still clings to a decade later and it's a style that was pleasantly evident in Black Hearted Brother's debut Stars Are Our Home.
On the album, the original 'Got Your Love' was a seven minute monster with an extended, cinematic opening and starry, electro-ambient close. The sheer grandeur of its presentation, served to shield its real identity.
The first track on this EP does away with the theatrics and presents 'Got Your Love' in its shameless pop-tart glory. It's almost incredible how shaving a couple of minutes off the start and finish of the original bring the handclaps and percussion into such sharp focus they appear to be on the verge of exploding out of the synthy mesh holding them in. Without undermining Mark Van Hoen's work in any way, this edit is splendid because it is honest.
When it comes to the mixes, Ricardo Tobar gets it. His take on the track is so intuitive it's worth taking a moment to consider that he might know Black Hearted Brother's audience better than the band does. Against a shadow of spaced-out keys, he mutes and muffles Halstead's vocals, layering them over each other and pushing them out of the immediate line of hearing - a mixing strategy not entirely dissimilar to Halstead's own treatment of the vocals on Pygmalion. Over this, he adds a healthy smattering of 8-bit synths, pseudo-strings, the sounds of a dial-up modem and cutlery, and leaves us with a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of the original track.
Evidently, Ultramarine are no strangers to the fans either, and opt for the classic space-rock route - there's more vocal layering , but there are fewer distractions to mask it. They embellish the song gently adding no more than the lightest percussion on the surface, and the mildest distortion beneath. The result is almost reverential.
'Don't Take the Weight' - the 'new' song on the EP - is not as much a complete track as it is a project between friends. It started out as an instrumental number in Mark Van Hoen's massive sonic storeroom, and was brought to life with the addition of Halstead's vocals. For all its dark intensity and whispered intimacy, it leaves you feeling a little bit intrusive - as if you've just walked in on someone talking to themselves and they haven't yet noticed you. Your thoughts on the track will probably depend on whether you choose to stay and listen, or softly back out.
It's not the most conventional of strategies, releasing an EP after the full-length is already out, but with Got Your Love, it's a worthwhile one. While 'Don’t Take the Weight' may be divisive, the edits of the title track are worthy competitors to the original. The Tobar mix alone is worth at least four consecutive listens. Halstead, Van Hoen and Holton have always been a little ahead of their time but Got Your Love radiates the present and, despite the subtle throwbacks, remains refreshingly nostalgia-free.
7Radhika Takru's Score