Chicago house with modern beating heart
The talented multi-disciplinary duo that comprises Essex brothers Rob and Mark Brandon first reared their musical heads in the summer 2018 with their striking single ‘Alone’. Theirs is a sound of two worlds coming together, taking musical influences of their youth – dad was a Chicago house freak, while mum was a Chopin-obsessed piano teacher – and filtering them through a more naturally-hued prism using eclectic samples with real pianos and drums.
Why Model Man?
Few balance the organic and the synthetic as well as these two. Their acclaimed debut ‘City Songs Pt 1’ saw the brothers visit five different cities around the world, gathering source material for a concept EP of house-inflected tracks that captured something vital and authentic about each place. ‘Without You’ for example, an emotive ode to the United Arab Emirates’ ghost city of Al Madam, is imbued with reflective piano-led soulfulness, while the warm intimacy of ‘Ketones’ adds ambient crackle and a deeply meditative sense of space to its nostalgic house foundations. It’s a gently seductive sound that ultimately wins you over with its unhurried, subtly abstract evocations.
Tell us more.
New EP ‘Beta Songs’ takes Model Man’s signature keyboard-led minimalism into darker territory. Standout ‘The Hill’ carries a mesmerising weight of small hours melancholy and evokes something of D’Angelo at his ‘Voodoo’-era best. But then ‘Solar’ brilliantly summons us into an uncertain narcotic twilight, propelled by that singular sense of space the brothers have found. “You always need to look for the space in music,” says Mark. “What’s not there is more important than what is.” Well quite. It’s the level of considered, cool-headed judgement that seems so rare in electronic music’s contemporary digital jungle that sets this gifted duo well and truly apart.
‘Beta Songs’ is on Mahogany