One of the records that I keep coming back to from the last month is Rick Wade’s deliciously dark Escapism EP. Detroit native Rick needs no introduction for most deep house fanatics. He’s been putting out quality house tunes since the mid 90s on respected labels like A Touch of Class, Viva!, and Moods and Grooves to name a few. The sorts of clichéd house maneuvers that can potentially trap new music into being terribly unexciting are expertly executed on his tracks.
When I saw this simple black paper sleeved 12” in the “New This Week!” bin at my local shop in February, I instantly snapped the last copy up. Having a penchant for the aesthetics of packaging and artwork (regardless of the legendary artist credit) I quite liked the three photos found on the center labels. On the info side: a human standing in the dark mouth of an enclave looking out into the light. On the other: a man giving two thumbs up on a crowded street corner full of people who seem not to notice him, and below, a lonely child climbing a snowy hill with his sled. These images really symbolized for me the reasons why we engage in escapism within the first place – an unrelenting feeling of being out of place and alone.
The 45 RPM A-side which features the title track is easily the most stripped back and simple of the trio. An overpowering kick drum slamming it’s way through a heavily filtered chord that pitch shifts it’s way into a fabulously melancholic arrangement. A constant tape hiss in the background compliments the distant and downplayed snare drum, and the hi-hat pattern never falters from its straight 8th note on the upbeat. These elements come in and out while a gorgeous set of strings add to the atmosphere. The track lies somewhere between techno and house, and is incredibly rhythmic but remains simple in it’s scope.
Over to the B-side on 33 RPM lies the second composition, “Stand Alone”. This number is much more related to his classic style with more organic drum samples and a true house arrangement. Lovely electric piano note rolls accentuate each other over a descending chord progression that is equally as dark as the chords on A1. There’s so much to love about Rick’s effortless ability to showcase house music with his perfect call and response structure and reverbed reverse crash samples at the end of each phrase. Though more for the peak hour, this tune is just as laden with emotion as the other two.
The closing track “Understand” makes a journey back to fusion of styles by what I identify as heavy minimal techno breaks influence. The solid upbeat hi-hat samples are traded for a more skittering and syncopated rolling style. Complimenting this choice is a very energetic bassline that bounces up and down around the drums. My favorite aspect of this track though, is the crate-digger sample usage of an old after dinner type ballad record that features the words, “I understand – of course, you couldn’t know,” and the string quartet that originally accompanied the vocalist on that record. Rick adds in his own flare with dreamy piano scales amidst high-pitched chord wisps. Put all together the recording is majestic in theory and infectiously jacking by nature.
This record is seriously top-notch stuff from a well known and respected American producer. In addition to making outstanding music, Rick Wade is an absolute joy to experience in person, so make sure to catch his performance if you’re ever presented with the opportunity to do so. He is able to deliver that feeling and energy that takes the form of our most treasured exercise in escapism.
You should be able to find this record on the racks of more reputable brick and mortar record shops for around $10 but it’s still on Juno for an extremely agreeable price. If there’s a bundle you’re trying to procure on deejay.de act fast as it’s nearly sold out. Delightfully, the record has a perfect 5-star rating so far on Discogs. Whatever you end up paying, this piece of music comes highly recommended from your friends here at Sequencer.
Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.