22.11.09

Review: Lee Curtiss - The Black Door EP


[ Written for Resident Advisor ]

Expect libidinous tech funk from Lee Curtiss, whose desert island album is Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Past EPs like “Smut” and “Sexy Dancer” could be buzzing neon signs in an alley. The new Spectral 12” opts for a more discreet locale. “Behind the black door,” in Curtiss’ words, “lies a land of pleasure, pain and wonderment,” a vivid scenario for his first Detroit on Detroit experience. Formerly known as Lee Meyers, Curtiss has a curious sound palette, but “The Black Door EP” is appealing because he succumbs to the influence of 80s pop and disco.

Black Door Beauty” is a confident groove that wastes no time exposing its parts: Dark kick immediately threads with quick gasps, shrieks and a Michael Hutchence in the hall of mirrors vocal, “You make me-…You make me feel…” It unfolds predictably with claps, subtle conga and shaker. One bass note throbs insistently to reinforce the words; a sawtooth bass pushes a devilish diminished chord. With the lightness of water vapor from the ceiling, high phasing synth provides harmonic relief.

Dyed Soundorum leads “Black Door Beauty” across a moving floor and the “Afraid Of The Ghost Remix” emerges with a crunk swagger. He pitches up and down in favor of the funhouse approach, dropping snare accents and disco bombs. “You make me feel…” becomes “I want you.” For this reason the bass line gets more action, and the diminished interval or tri-tone moves to the percussion.

Smoking Mirrors” is a breathy disco dub, the leftover “pleasure” and “wonderment” of after hours. Delayed and rhythmic strings wander and eventually coax patrons toward the exit. Just interesting enough to entertain and not to overwhelm, the “Black Door” has an ideal hypnotic quality that can transform the shy onlookers into cocksure participants.