Album Review | 6th Borough Project | One Night in the Borough

6th Borough Project
Delusions of Grandeur

house \haus \ n + chill•out \ chil-aût \ vb

In the opening seconds of One Night in the Borough (out today on Delusions of Grandeur), you’d be tempted to assume that the 6th borough in question was some long lost neighborhood buried somewhere in Queens or the Bronx, not situated across the pond in Scotland. But it’s Edinborough that Craig Smith and Graeme Clark (a.k.a. the Revenge) call home base, and it’s there that the duo gave birth to the sample-heavy, low-slung house of the 6th Borough Project. These two don’t make hip-hop, but they share an affinity for its roots in funk, soul and disco and their best work samples from these sources with as deft a hand as any of the production greats coming out of the 5 Boroughs during rap’s heyday.

Of the two minds behind One Night, Clark is the one who’s seen the most notoriety as a solo act. As the Revenge, he’s been doling out slick, meditative disco edits since 2004. But it’s his work for labels like Jisco Music beginning in ’08 that became instant must-haves for any DJ operating in the nudisco sphere. Like Mark E, he’s a producer who isn’t afraid to drop the tempo, and that mantra has shone through on this record as well. Early on, tracks like “If the Feeling’s Right”—with its looped jazz piano, disco and soul-sampled sprinkles and steppers tempo—that define what makes this pair unique. They make house music without urgency. It’s in no hurry to get anywhere and we can come along without having to break a sweat. 

That doesn’t mean there aren’t cuts her worth breaking a sweat to. “Find a Way” is disco reinterpreted for a post-techno world: deeper and dubbier but still oozing with soul. Funk guitar scratches, strings soar and horns riff, but they all do so with a hypnotism that’s ideal for today’s drug-addled dance floors. As One Night progresses, this quality moves right along with it. The retro cut n’ paste flourishes get toned down and warm keys, rolling drums and thick house beats take over. “The Fool” and “Endless Nights” are a perfect middle ground; still disco but with the four-on-the-floor kicks, gritty basslines and atmospherics needed bring them into the new millennium.

Unfortunately, as the modern twists become more prevalent, personality is sacrificed. The disco glitz of the early half of the record is tarnished by the blandness that deep house can possess. Tracks like “Iznae” and “Changin’” are the sort destined for the inner slot on a 12”s b-side. Yes, those slots need to be filled, but on a full length they just seem like filler. There’s nothing Grandeur about them, that’s for sure. In this first full length outing for Clark and Smith, the 6th Borough Project is best when it sticks to its roots, as it does on the syrupy set closer "Settle," and draws from the 5 Boroughs from which it derives its name. 

—Joshua P. Ferguson

Here's the duo's latest promo mix to help get you in the mood:


And the latest video, for "If the Feeling's Right":


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