Red Bull/Mixmag journalist Matt Anniss on Ishmael Ensemble's Severn Songs
Ishmael Ensemble’s Severn Songs series of 7” singles is an extended love letter to Bristol. The man behind the project, Pete Cunningham, grew up in a village nearby, daydreaming about turning 18 so he could move to the city and experience its bustling, bass-heavy club scene. These late-teens trips to drum and bass and dubstep clubs inspired the two tracks featured on the latest volume in the series, Tunnels and First Light.
Tunnels is loose, breakbeat-driven and rich in hypnotic electric piano, Cunningham’s haunted saxophone motifs and far-out, delay-laden guitar solos. It captures the energy associated with Bristol’s sweaty clubs, albeit in a jazz context. But the slow-burn wonder of First Light really sets the pulse racing. With its drifting, bluesy horn lines, soft-touch drums and head-in-the-clouds electronics, it feels like the perfect accompaniment to early morning stumbling around Bristol’s Harbourside, following a night spent dancing in a darkened sweat-box. It’s one of the most magical tracks Cunningham and co have produced to date, and that’s saying something.