Release Date: Oct 16, 2015
Record label: N/A
Stuart Li, the man behind Basic Soul Unit, has been releasing tracks regularly for over a decade, only finally putting out a full release in 2012. His sophomore LP, Under The Same Sky, cements his reputation as a musician obsessed with the vibrant richness one finds in small details.Under the Same Sky is a rewarding listen characterized by a generous portion of thumping, woofer-busting bass and vigorous, industrial beats; there's a persistent feeling here of being lost in a mechanical utopia. Twinkling through the exposed, industrial-piped roof of Li's compositions, however, are subtle flickers of human endeavour that challenge simplistic summary.
Stuart Li has kept a fairly recognisable sound throughout his 12-year career. It's not unique to him, but he does it as well as anyone. Consummate long- and short-form releases on labels like Dolly, NonPlus and Still Music all prove that much: be they deeper house, dub or techno excursions, everything Li does leans on heavyweight funk, lo-fi grit and an uncomplicated yet absorbing sense of function.
Anyone with an interest in left-of-center house or techno can find something impressive in the catalog of Stuart Li, aka Basic Soul Unit. It's a testament to Li's chameleonic nature that he has proven a seamless fit with the cult Japanese deep house imprint Mule Musiq; the UK bass driven techno label Nonplus Records; Berlin behemoth Ostgut Ton; and Jamal Moss' purposefully abstract Mathematics Recordings. Each of these labels has successfully staked out a patch of deep and slightly weird dance music territory, and Li's edgy-yet-accessible style has endeared him to the DJs who also reside there; he appeals to selectors of many stripes, as his productions consistently come to life when thundering down towards darkened dancefloors.
Toronto DJ/producer Basic Soul Unit (aka Stuart Li) explored deep Chicago house sounds on his last album, Motional Response, but there's almost no trace of those soulful influences on his new offering. Instead, he's shifted to Detroit and Berlin techno, and the mood is darkly dystopian. Kick drums are distorted, synth melodies are anxious and gloomy, and little of his jazz-funk DJ roots remains.