One thing that no one could deny about Jamie Berry is that the man is consistent. And as of late, he has been working hard. Last October, Berry put out Light up the Night, his second full length album, and just in June he released The Stampede. Now, only three months later, another EP – Prohibition – has been released, highlighting yet again Berry’s considerable contributions to the electro swing scene. With every new collection, Berry manages to demonstrate his continued ability to create songs with fantastic potential for success, and this new EP is certainly no exception.
The first track is ‘Mockingbird’, which begins with some classic vintage samples, before developing into a leisurely, downbeat, minimal arrangement, eventually emerging as a big brassy beat. This is characteristic-sounding Berry, but slowed-down. There are some nice production effects here; nothing is too overbearing, and it’s all very subtle. Perhaps an unusual way to start, but maybe appropriate – in that it’s carrying on from the adventurousness of his last EP. ‘The Mountain’ is then a lot more upbeat, energetic, and most of all – dancey. The bedroom shuffle dancers whom Jamie Berry tends to attract will be very happy – and it will too be appreciated by everyone from lindy hoppers to ravers. You can never go far wrong with a Cab Calloway vocal; and we have a solid beat – plus the synth lines towards the end are beautifully flowing. This flowy feeling continues into ‘Something in the Air’, with a trip hop-esque infuence, reminiscent of Boogie Belgique, or Mr Woox. It’s still very evidently a dance piece though – Berry has certainly put his stamp on it. By this point, what’s noticeable as well is that all the songs manage to get even better as they progress.
‘Murder in the Moonlight’ is another classic Jamie Berry piece, with some great instrumental samples – some real highlights. There’s a huge build to the drop, which feels like it’s going to add more than it eventually does though – the continuing tune essentially stays the same once it kicks back in, although it does remains strong. Towards the end there are also some surprising dubstep inspired wobbles – a curious development. ‘Shenanigans’ continues with the typical Berry sound, and in this sense is the strongest of the release; this could well become another of his best-known anthems. There’s a much better use of a drop in this one – new and interesting; and overall it’s a very fine track. I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t spread like wildfire throughout the electro swing scene. Finally, the EP ends with ‘Prohibition’, the title track, which starts off sounding suitable large – there’s a very wide sound, and a good use of filter sweeps. The drop is huge – this will work wonders on the dancefloor; and the reed sections sound like they’re constantly accelerating the piece to new places. Again, it’s classic Jamie Berry: this EP is definitely not as adventurous as his last, but in terms of continuing to do what he does best, it’s a success.
It would be hard for one to not enjoy Prohibition. Especially for a fan who’s already familiar, I can’t imagine anyone would be disappointed. What’s striking though, is the compositional contrast between this release and ‘The Stampede’. In my previous review I mentioned that “he seems to be becoming more comfortable stepping outside of his usual formula, and getting away from the standard house sound”. Here – with the partial exception of tracks 1 and 3 – he seems to have largely returned to what he’s used to. So one’s preferred EP of the two will depend entirely on what they’re wishing for from Berry. For the more adventurous, looking for Berry showcasing his development, The Stampede is for you. But for those who already know exactly what they wish to hear from this producer, Prohibition will certainly satisfy your cravings.
Written by Chris Swinglis Date: 2020-09-29