Western movies and progressive house collide – to stunning effect
It's fair to say that 2020 has thrown up its fair share of shocks and surprises. Then again, if you'd told me 18 months ago that, as of May 2020, the world would be in the grip of a flu-like pandemic, I'd have believed you (see also: SARS, HN51, etc). If you'd told me 18 months ago that, as of May 2020, there'd be riots in US cities due to police brutality and racism, I'd have believed you (see also: 1967, 1968, 1992, 2014, etc). But if you'd told me 18 months ago that, as of May 2020, one of my favourite long-players of the year so far would be a western-themed progressive house concept album, I'd have laughed at you.
And yet here we are.
Uone is a Melbourne-based DJ who some of you may know from his contribution to the Balance series. Western is Nick West, who's one-half of the duo Shades Of Gray (Beef Records) as well as managing Smith & Western Studios in Sydney. None of which explains the sampled western movie dialogue that's sprinkled heavily throughout The Lone Wranglers, but there you go. It's those samples, together with plangent (and at times quite Knopfler-esque) guitar courtesy of Mr West and a couple of gentle piano interludes, that give the album its western feel; the other half of the equation is the chugging beats, warm basslines and dreamy pads, which come from that place where "deep" and "progressive" house collide.
It would be an exaggeration to say this is truly groundbreaking: there was a brief vogue for western movie/C&W sounds in dance tracks round about 1993, as I recall (for good examples, see Lemon Interrupt's Big Mouth or The Grid's Texas Cowboys; for a truly awful example, see Rednex's Cotton-Eye Joe). But it's certainly not a trick many producers have used in recent years, and as of May 2020, it's sounding not just surprising, but also remarkably fresh.
As for club playability… there are tracks here that'd work on the floor for sure (see, for example, The Tale Of The Seven Samurai, or closer Last Showdown). But really this is an album that's best appreciated whole, because it's that most rare of beasts: a concept album that actually works. And now, if you don't mind, I'm gonna saddle up my horse and ride off into the sunset. After all, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: 25 May
Review Score: 9