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Album Review

It took Richard Davis three years to follow up his first album, 2002's Safety, with Details. During the time between the two releases, the producer became more skilled at sound design, more confident as a vocalist and songwriter, and — quite possibly — more familiar with torturous relationships. "Bring Me Closer," a magnificent 2003 single released on Swayzak's 240 Volts label, signaled this rise; cast in a gloomy balm of synthetic strings and Davis' droning/resigned vocals, it jerked and tugged with a pointed rhythm and a set of backwards strings tucked inside, seducing the happiest of dancers into a much darker place. An alternate-ending mix of that song concludes Details, an album that takes on a similar tone from front to back. Safety featured a couple vocal tracks from Davis and Sonja Spogk, but most of the tracks on Details feature the producer's pained but comforting voice. (It might just be that he doesn't get enough to eat; he looks a bit like a Derek Hess drawing brought to life.) The voice guides the listener through a lot of heartache, failed communication, and attempts to disconnect from it all. Fundamentally, these are all house tracks, most of which would be more effective while alone (or with your partner) than in a communal setting. As a beat maker, Davis isn't the most imaginative or innovative in his league, but he knows how to avoid repeating himself, tending to prefer tough edges over soft, cushiony thumps. He truly excels at textures, whether they come from keyboards, pianos, sampled strings, real strings, or whatever unidentifiable stuff he chooses to use. The other things that suck you in are the vocal hooks, which often burrow deeper under your skin with each passing listen. You can imagine them being sung by a diva at full wail, but Davis knows the power of subtlety and how to use his limitations to his advantage. The only real drawback: since similar elements are used from track to track, the album can be draining, so the listening experience might be improved with the removal of two or three tracks. But which ones?

Biography

Born: England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Richard Davis routinely produces a bleakly elegant form of minimal house, adding his understated, comforting voice to make a good percentage of his tracks full-blown songs that work equally on the dancefloor and in the bedroom. Born Dennis Kensington in England, he has also used the name Paul Davis in credits. Though he released a handful of 12" singles as Junkie Sartre, including a collaboration with Ulrich Schnauss, his releases as Richard Davis gained far more fame. In 2002, the album Safety came...
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Details, Richard Davis
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