Layo & Bushwacka!: Night Works

Darren Ratner

Layo & Bushwacka!

Night Works

Label: Beggars Group
US Release Date: 2002-09-10
UK Release Date: 2002-07-01

Ever since the '90s boom of edgy dance acts, groups such as Layo & Bushwacka! have taken European clubs by storm. Layo Paskin (founder of London's The End) and former funk DJ Matthew "Bushwacka" B. (previously a rave jockey and partner in crime at The End) both decided to collaborate in 1999 for their first effort, Low Life. They met during a studio session, deciding to hone their collective art while still making room for individual ones. And much like their many peers -- Adam Freeland, Leftfield, Silicone Soul -- the duo prides itself on a myriad of styles that include breakbeat, tech-house and dub-reggae.

Night Works (their second LP), however, may be different than what fans are accustomed to. Sure you have all the aforementioned inspiration, but this CD rides a more uncharted trail. There's a wider range of instrumentals and one heck of a seductive vibe.

While examining this experimentation of instruments, we're also talking about the progression into other genres. These are rock, old skool breakbeats, blues -- and each track becomes more in-depth than the next. Either it's the pounding drum'n'bass of "Shining Through", electro guitar chords of "We Meet at Last", or rousing delta blues of "Sleepy Language", which happens to be one of the finest cuts of the album. Wailing saxophones, trumpets, electric guitar, even samplers such as a clapping audience -- it all induces goose bumps. It also proves that their capable of more aesthetic creativity than before.

Speaking of goose bumps, "Love Story" -- the first single off the record -- is another skin tickler. Held in high regard by other overachievers such as Darren Emerson and Sasha, the song carries an understandable admiration. Championing a strong bass line with highlighted samples of the great Nina Simone, the song's arrangement is simplistic. It has a smooth, dark house rhythm that makes it hard not to wiggle. The vocals, on the other hand, add a cool effect to this power, as Simone's words writhe among minor tones and dusky mood.

But dusky atmosphere doesn't lend itself to a single song. One of the most intriguing aspects of the album is the aura of creepiness, sultriness and sensuality. Unlike many of today's one-dimensional house acts -- crafting only rambunctious tunes of the danceable kind -- this group decides to add short interludes, marking their highly creative moods. Though it's easy to see how these breaks appear unusual. Take, for instance, the swooping, mysterious "Vinyl". While, at first listen, the track sounds like a horror film intro, it actually becomes a welcoming to the group's new shadowy, yet sexy world. The desert mood of "Sahara", clickety-clack of "Automate", laser like zip of "Strike", it all comes off as sporadic. But the variety, and obscurity, surrounding these tones and beats make it work.

Putting acid-house and rave parties behind them, this twosome has yet to see how far they can go. Layo & Bushwacka! hasn't made that big a splash on U.S. waters. Though if one examines their growing popularity, you could easily say they're a tsunami waiting to happen. All in all, Night Works isn't just for clubbers. It happens to be a barrage of up-tempo grooves and down-tempo charmers. It's this fusing of electronics, instrumentals and genres that will separate it from big beat acts -- a.k.a The Chemical Brothers a.k.a. Fatboy Slim. Wilder sounds are emerging and if groups such as Layo & Bushwacka! keep jetting forward, it may be the standard by which our new generations of DJs abide.





The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.


ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.


Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.


Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.


Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.


'Sell You Everything' Brings to Light Buzzcocks '1991 Demo LP' That Passed Under-the-Radar

Cherry Red Records' new box-set issued in memory of Pete Shelley gathers together the entire post-reunion output of the legendary Buzzcocks. Across the next week, PopMatters explores the set album-by-album. First up is The 1991 Demo LP.


10 Key Tracks From the British Synthpop Boom of 1980

It's 40 years since the first explosion of electronic songs revitalized the UK charts with futuristic subject matter, DIY aesthetics, and occasionally pompous lyrics. To celebrate, here's a chronological list of those Moog-infused tracks of 1980 that had the biggest impact.

Reading Pandemics

Poe, Pandemic, and Underlying Conditions

To read Edgar Allan Poe in the time of pandemic, we need to appreciate a very different aspect of his perspective—not that of a mimetic artist but of the political economist.


'Yours, Jean' Is a Perfect Mixture of Tragedy, Repressed Desire, and Poor Impulse Control

Lee Martin's Yours, Jean is a perfectly balanced and heartbreaking mix of true crime narrative and literary fiction.


The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.