Review: Anthony Naples – Body Pill

From the interstellar dust of its opener Ris, one thing is immediately clear: Anthony Naples doesn’t care what anybody thinks. This is a brave, bold and uniformly slippery debut album from the Brooklynite producer.

Not a lot of time at all has passed since Naples first bobbed into the crosshairs of Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter. As the two brains behind the increasingly influential party-cum-label bastion of New York’s ever-mutating dance culture, Mister Saturday Night, the duo were immediately drawn to a skeletal demo of Mad Disrespect. With its endearingly bleepy synths and effortlessly funky (and astoundingly layered) percussion, its release on the label positioned Naples as one of the Big Apple’s most refreshingly original talents.

The Miami-born Naples quickly garnered the attention of a particularly important transatlantic pilgrim to Mister Saturday Night’s parties, Kieran Hebden, who almost immediately asked him to remix one of his tracks. The dank, tense flipside on 128 Harps was the magnetic result, and a statement of intent for an idiosyncratic artist who refuses to be pigeonholed. Naples has since seen a slew of well-received releases on the label arm of his birthplace since then, as well as on London’s Trilogy Tapes and his own successful Proibito imprint. His debut LP, Body Pill, has a suitably progressive home on Hebden’s very own Text Records.

The whole album’s spacious aesthetic feels thoroughly accomplished – and confident – for a debut LP.

Despite most people associating Naples with heaving dancefloors (and rightly so), Body Pill sees him flexing his more leftfield musical muscles. Its opening Ris exists amidst broad, almost imperceptible, brushstrokes of Eno-esque ambience before giving way to a moody synth line that’s heavily indebted to the eighties, whilst the ambiguous melancholia of Pale similarly sounds like an early 70s synth experiment. Way Stone strips things back even further away from the floor with just over a minute of sparse, disparate melody that is only occasionally jolted back to life with the thud of a weighty kick. The whole album’s spacious aesthetic feels thoroughly accomplished – and confident – for a debut LP.

That’s not to say that Body Pill avoids the dancefloor completely. The dusty and disjointed stings that sit atop the 4×4 of Abrazo sound unmistakably like an Anthony Naples party soundtrack. There is a tangible vibrancy to his sound, and a distinct physicality that is born out of its determinedly lo-fi construction; the manic urgency of Refugio would get even the most adamant non-dancer’s heart fluttering with its insanity-inducing synth lines and amorphous percussion. The soaring string samples he uses would often be in danger of sounding kitsch in less musical hands, but Naples’ assured approach means that the album always feels perfectly unforced and at ease with itself.

Despite the whole release only coming up just shy of half an hour, and differing wildly in mood and texture, it is tied into a cohesive and meaty whole through Naples’ distinctive and energetic sound. Leaving no syncopated rhythm or clattering hi-hat untouched, his rough and ready approach belies a deep affinity for atmospheric and smoky electronic music. In a world of identikit house and techno that’s been polished to a corporate shine, Body Pill is a wonderfully cathartic listening experience. Fiercely recommended.

Words: Anthony Prodromou

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