Release Date: Oct 2, 2012
Record label: Planet Mu
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Planet Mu’s latest wunderkind is 18-year-old David Davis, whose debut as Young Smoke will be a feast to anyone who grew up on Game Boy soundtracks. Possibly inspired by one of the worlds from Super Mario Land 2 (and definitely by the futuristic footwork of Kuedo’s album Severant ), Space Zone is arcade synth melodies set to heavy, 160bpm rhythms. As adventurous as it is tuneful, and sealed in cover art even Def Leppard wouldn’t sign off, it’s an aggressive little record that takes you into the cosmos without making you leave your bedroom or put down the joypad.
Footwork is all grown up. It has an established genealogy, a set of recognizable traits, an international reputation, and even a segment on NPR. This development has no doubt been encouraged by footwork music itself, which given the releases of the past year — Traxman, DJ Rashad, DJ Diamond, etc. — appears less and less as the scrappy utilitarian sound of an underground dance scene and more as a serious sonic art.
Space Zone is the debut album from 18-year-old David Davis, aka Young Smoke. The Chicago-based producer is inextricably tied to his hometown's faster-than-fast and repetitive genre of footwork; Davis is one of the producers linked with Chicago's Flight Musik collective, which is headed up by DJ Diamond, who issued a solid footwork album under that name on UK label Planet Mu. That imprint has spent the last several years making a case for footwork as a genre that transcends functional dance music, in part through their Bangs & Works compilation series; Davis contributed two songs, "Psycho War" and "Wouldn't Get Far", to last year's second installment.
Young Smoke is an up-and-coming footwork producer based in Chicago, and if his debut album is a bit uneven, that's only to be expected from an 18-year-old working in a relatively new field of electronic music. It's unfortunate that the album starts off so unpromisingly: "Space Zone" and "Warning" get things off on the wrong foot, with too much repetitive and goofy vocoder verbiage (along the lines of "Warning. Warning.
Wheeeee…. Footworking in space! Strike up the John Williams fanfare and set those intro credits rolling, because Young Smoke's Space Zone is a new contender in the battle for best 2012 Chicago footwork album. Until now the title would likely have gone to one of two veterans amid a scene that has surged in popularity in recent months, from specialist concern to something approaching an alternative mainstream.
Chicago's Young Smoke (aka David Davis) is "young" indeed. At only 18 years old, his debut album The Space Zone is quite the accomplishment. Putting his unique spin on the footwork genre, lightening it, making it less aggressive and more accessible whilst adding some interest with a plethora of fun sci-fi samples, The Space Zone is a unique release.