Nigel Hayes ...But is it art?

Londoner Nigel Hayes’s debut release stems out of a meeting between the DJ/producer and the Sunshine Enterprises crew on a DJ tour in Bulgaria. That was in 1998, and after several shows at the Vienna — home base of Sunshine — the idea to collaborate emerged with the result being ...But Is It Art? Apart from forays at the Sub Club and Arches in Glasgow, where Hayes moved from London more than a decade ago before relocating to home territory, he has had many a job in remarkable record stores, from Bomba and Fopp Records in Glasgow to Joe Claussell’s famous record store, Dance Tracks, in NYC. The two fundamental influences that emerge in this debut release are Hayes’s love for jazzy breakbeat rhythms and a deep house sensibility inflected with an Afro-Latin flavour. No surprise, considering his history working with Lars Sandberd, aka Funk D’Void, in Glasgow, where the two acquired a taste for jazz and eventually formed Chaser in 1995. The jazz, funk and house influences are complemented and created by live musicians — particularly Albin Janoska contributing programming and keys on several tracks and the infectious and sensual percussion grooves, courtesy of Fernando Pavia. This is most evident on tracks such as “Time is Moving,” “I’m the Instrument” and “Bad Stone,” all of which bear the trademark garage sound. The sensual vibe definitely picks up on “Ode to Odyssey”; a sweet house track with distant, barely audible strings and keys over the four to the floor beat and continues into “Back Together,” with Sam Brisbe on vocals. All said and done, the ensemble is a mellow listen, as if too many influences are scattering the whole. More tracks in the vein of the mood captured on “Ode to Odyssey” or “Back Together” would give it a seamless and extremely sexy feel, which those tracks promise and deliver. (Sunshine)