A sixth EP, five tracks and… five experiments with Electro Swing! EP review: Jamie Berry – ‘Antiquity’
Jamie Berry is one of the most unpredictable Electro Swing artists. A little over a month ago he did something that totally surprised me (and I think I’m not the only one!). On his social media he announced the release of a new EP, the sixth in his artistic output. I was very excited: each of Jamie’s EPs has featured a whole lot of diverse music, so I was looking forward to the new release.
Then I read the post on Instagram and it turned out that the EP would be released in just… a week! Interestingly, on the day this post was published, we didn’t yet know its name – Jamie Berry didn’t reveal the secret until two days before the release and at the same time posted a gorgeous, old-school cover featuring a moustachioed pilot. I felt that ‘Antiquity’ would be something that would surprise me after the first listen to the tracks.
I was not wrong, and I will prove to you that everyone will discover something for themselves in these compositions. Why? Because each song is created… in the style of completely different musical genres! And I will prove it to you in my review!
I don’t have to explain to anyone what elements Electro Swing consists of. Clear, rhythmic drum beats, some electronic music influences and of course… a whole lot of melodies coming from the wind instruments. Some samples from the old swing of the 1930s would also have been useful for this set.
For the track ‘Antiquity’, Jamie Berry opted for the classics we all know and love. For you will surely be familiar with Stuff Smith’s “It Ain’t Right” from 1936 – fragments of this song were used in their compositions by Parov Stelar (“Mama Talking”) and Caravan Palace (“Rock it for Me”), among others. Interesting fact: Jamie also remixed ‘It Ain’t Right’ in his 2016 EP ‘Bombinate’!
Jamie Berry decided to add samples from this timeless swing banger again, this time for ‘Antiquity’. And it worked out really brilliantly for him, as at around 01:40, he added a fantastic electronic theme to it. Be sure to take a listen to it, because for me, this piece is directly associated with… flying into space! I don’t know why, but now I’ve looked again at that moustachioed pilot from the cover and it all started to come together perfectly in a coherent whole for me. :)
With my eyes I can see thousands of clubbers partying on this track! And I can feel the electric pulses going through my head and body as I listen to “Kings & Queens”. I think a while ago I would have simply skipped this track – I’m not too keen on trance.
However, the longer I listened to it while compiling the review, I discovered how fantastically this musical genre can be combined with Electro Swing elements, i.e. old-school samples and wind instruments ringing out in places. Jamie consistently follows his plan: it has to be surprising, original and every piece of the puzzle has to fit together. It remains to be seen whether this principle will also extend to the other tracks on the Antiquity EP.
I’ve been waiting for this track with great impatience – I love Jamie’s excellent feel for picking female vocalists for his duets. He’s proven it to us at least in the two tracks I reviewed. I’m talking, of course, about ‘Make Me Believe’ with Octavia Rose (you can find the review HERE) and ‘Take You Right Back’ with Little Violet (HERE).
I’ll honestly admit to you that if I hadn’t known that Cissie was singing on ‘Keep You in Line’, I probably would have confused her with Little Violet. Can you hear the resemblance in their voices too? First of all, both of these singers are extremely classy and you can sense this from the first notes they sing. Cissie sounds so delicate here, yet with her vocal maturity she immediately grabs the heart.
Jamie’s use of the saxophone in this track brings back fantastic memories in me… I remember around 2012 or 2013, radio stations started playing a lot of pop hits that featured saxophone solos. And the one for the creation of the song “Keep You in Line” delights me and makes me feel like I’m that 10 years younger again. :)
This instrumental track is an amazing musical experience for me. Because I heard something in it that totally enchanted me, namely… that perfect, simply exquisite bass guitar sound. I think that without this instrument I wouldn’t have gotten so intensely into the vortex of this cyclone. :)
I can say that the bass guitar sounds that we hear at certain moments of “Vitaphone Cyclone”, totally remind me of the playing style of Flea, the bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Can you hear that distinctive thump that gives this bass a warmer, deeper sound? If I’m not mistaken, the bassist used slapping here, i.e. hitting the strings hard with his thumb to get that clean, pristine sound. Combined with the somewhat ‘sad’ violin playing, this makes for a truly delectable explosive mix. Jamie Berry has just won a poll for non-obvious combining of musical elements. P.S. Tell the bass player he’s amazing!
I may now surprise you a little with my comparison, but as soon as I heard the intro in “Divine”, my first association was… old Polish films from the 60s and 70s! Seriously, I love that kind of cinema and I remember very well that film music in those days in Poland sounded just like this wonderful intro.
Once again I have to say it: Jamie Berry’s choice of samples is exquisite. This time he reached for the 1933 song ‘Close Your Eyes’, performed by the brilliant singer Ruth Etting. I don’t know if anyone reaching for this beautiful, touching song would have been able to create something so brilliant from it.
Jamie has modernised this song by adding a relaxed, swing hop beat and those fantastic electronic effects from himself. I for one was delighted to add ‘Divine’ to the playlist where I put my favourite tracks. In my opinion, Jamie has created the best possible ending to this EP. One that makes me eager to revisit and listen to this EP again.
Well, I have to be honest with you… ‘Antiquity’ is not my favourite Jamie Berry EP. It ranks just behind the brilliant ‘Prohibition’, which enthralled me from the very first listen and kept me hooked – every now and then I come back to the all-perfect track ‘Mockingbird’, to the delicious as old wine ‘Murder in the Moonlight’ and the fabulous ‘Something in the Air’. I think it’s totally a matter of taste – I’m a bit of an ‘old soul’ who gets goosebumps of delight at the sound of swing samples (which is probably why I was so enthralled by the track ‘Divine’).
However, I never close myself off to diversity, and that’s exactly what I discovered in the Antiquity EP. Jamie Berry has proven that Electro Swing can really be combined with any musical genre and create something fresh and inspiring. Something that makes me want to come back to his songs again and again and with great pleasure discover something completely new in them.
Written & reviewed by LadyDot (Ja, Wizeruk) Date: 2022-09-19
Anna (LadyDot) was born in ’94, but always felt she came from the Golden Twenties. “Polka” in Polish means “girl from Poland”, so she’s “Polka in polka dots”. She loves vintage style and spontaneous travels around Europe. But her greatest love (apart from her husband) is of course music, especially Electro Swing.
On her own Blog www.jawizeruk.pl she writes about various music genres. She is a copywriter, so writing is her strong point. Anna likes singing (not only in the shower!) and cooking (especially Italian and Hungarian cuisine).