Given the lack of glamour and fanfare that has surrounded Mark E’s career to date, it’s only natural that in the array of interviews that have preceded the release of Stone Breaker, the focus has been on the Birmingham based producer’s opinion of disco edits and his relationship to them. It’s become an increasingly distant relationship since those early releases for Jiscomusic and Running Back, and the Merc boss – real name Mark Evetts – has been quite insistent in proclaiming he makes house music.
Close followers of his productions will not be surprised to hear that the core of the nine tracks that make up the album were produced amidst a fruitful period last year which saw Evetts reveal an industrially tinged sound via a number of releases and remixes. In hindsight, his release for the Soft Rocks affiliated imprint Vibrations in particular, proved to be an auspicious portent as to how Stone Breaker would sound.
The heavily pressurised grooves and thick viscous atmospherics that seeped through Escape clearly laid down the template for how Evetts would fill Stone Breaker. By his own concession, this is less a concise album shaped journey and more a collection of tracks primed for various moments on the dancefloor that are worthy of more than a mere twelve inch release. And as such there are plenty of “chug chug bump bump” moments, such as opening gambit “Archway” with a thick, concrete like motorik thump that dominates the swirls of oscilatting keys and indecipherable vocals that swim around the nether regions. Contrasting and complementing these grinding rhythms are tracks such as “The Day”, a blues ridden bump driven by the most pensive of female vocal warbles, or the blaring head nod swagger of “Black Country Saga” which is surely primed for an inevitable Odd Future embellished blend.
It’s likely your affections for this album set will be focused on the colossal album centre piece “Got To Get Me There”. Clocking in at ten minutes, the ease with which the track slowly grows out of the primal robotnik techno beat that characterises the opening three minutes doesn’t hit you upon first listen. Thus when those keys creep in, drenched in soul, it’s an enlightening experience which demands repeat play. There are certain tracks you hear in a personal environment and then spend the rest of your days seeking out a chance to hear it engulf your senses on a speaker rig the size of the Appalachians; “Got To Get Me There” is one of those.