Another quality album from the former Fila Brazillia man using his actual real-life name
Since he first popped up in the early 90s as one half of Sheffield’s soul-flecked major labellers Ashley & Jackson, Steve Cobby’s penchant for collaborations and pseudonyms has been admirable. There’s Fila Brazillia, JSTAR*S, The Solid Doctor, Heights Of Abraham, JJ Fuchs, Hey Rube!, The Cutler, Chieftain, Peacecorps, Citrus. You wouldn’t be half surprised to discover he’s forgotten a few himself.
With that sort of output, there’s surely a dud or two, right? Some projects must be better than others, some more successful than others? You try picking a favourite Fila album from their 10 studio outings – it’s a tough call. So ‘Everliving’ is a revelation, even by Cobby standards.
Making a conscious decision to work by himself, under his real name, and to release records on his own Déclassé label, seems to have freed Hull’s finest up quite considerably. The first fruit of this new school of thinking, last year’s ‘Saudade’, was something of a head-above-the-parapet to see if anyone waved back, to see if perhaps a modest cottage industry approach was the way forward. The response was cockle warming.
‘Everliving’, which comes as a lavish triple vinyl set, is the sound of Cobby stretching out with new confidence, and it fair brims with a fresh-found joie de vivre. It’s like some sort of unfurling of an expensive, intricately crafted rug, such is the weave. You want house? Acid? Disco? Jazz? Downtempo? Chiptune?! For heaven’s sake.
‘The Sirens Help Me To Sleep’ is pure 21st century disco. Deep acid disco if you will, it rolls along lovely, all low slung bass and trebly guitar chang tripping off the grooves. And it gets better… and better… and better. We’re halfway into the eight-minute-plus ‘Teleseme’ and a cowbell chimes. Just four beats, but it signals the beginning of such sweeping orchestral lushness that you wonder what film it’s from. ‘Clams’ serves up a mere handful of bars of chiptune that leave you waiting for it to appear again. Which it does. Briefly. ‘The Sober Certainty Of Walking Bliss’ (not even the best track title on the record – try the mild dub of ‘Nip It Up Choppy’ for size) is mellow, mellow, mellow jazz acid. You could lose yourself several times over in ‘Fresh Blue Algave’, a satisfyingly locked-down chilled house rumble that spans 13 minutes. And so it goes on. And on.
The danger with instrumental music is that it can often end up as background wash. Steve Cobby has a knack for making a blend that demands your attention. This isn’t about disco dancing or filling floors, although in parts ‘Everliving’ could easily do both. This is about the intricate, skilled flights of one of the UK’s most gifted composers and it deserves your undivided ear time.
The man is some sort of genius. The best sort. One that doesn’t even know it.