Album of the Week: Antony & Cleopatra – Hurt Like Hell (2018 EP)

No, we are not talking about the Shakespeare drama here, even if “Hurt Like Hell” was probably something Cleopatra would have said about her demise. Hurt Like Hell is the title of the new EP by the deep house Duo Antony & Cleopatra. The album was released on Friday and contains six ready-to-dance-to tracks packed with techno beats and funky electronic sound effects.

Hiding behind the name Antony & Cleopatra are British singer and songwriter Anita Blay, and the former Sparkadia front man, Alexander Burnett. The two musicians bonded over their shared love for electronic music and started their project in 2014. With the premise of ridding themselves of genre boundaries, they simply created beats and melodies after their liking. And with Blay living in Berlin and Burnett residing in London, lots of inspiration from Berlin’s weird and funky nightlife and some softer British techno pop influence turned the EP into an unique collection of music. The eclectic songs resonated with a lot of fellow electronic, techno, and house fans looking for something more versatile and new.

The opening track “Hurt Like Hell” sets the mood for the album with sparkling synthesizer melodies and a driving techno beat. The two artists take turns at singing “And I can’t get enough” giving the lyrics a conversational, but also repetitive and rather basic songwriting style. (Admittedly electronic music is more about diving into the trance-like beats than about elaborate poetic skill.)

“Hard Feelings” does not lack danceable energy either, but keeps the use of sound effects to a minimum. The thick bass line and the well-placed electronic tunes show that the Duo really put some thought into creating this track. Aside from the electronic drums and the synthesiser Antony & Cleopatra make use of a Hang Drum on “Baptised”. The instrument creates a special homemade steel drum feel and forms a strong stance for the catchy pop influenced chorus. Blay’s looped vocals are echoing up and down this track making it easy to sing along, whereas on the next track the minimalistic lyrics let the dynamic shifts and drops of the rhythm shine. “Worlds Apart” is a pulsating deep house jam with a driving beat and a funky melody that won’t allow any feet to stand still. Going hand in hand with the layered beats is the next bass heavy song “Safe Words”. Here the vocals are more spoken than sung, giving Blay a robot-like ring as she sings of “Party Favours”.

The probably most interesting single on this EP is “Dropping Plates”. The steady rhythm and experimental drumbeats make for an interesting and truly unique single. While the song rearranges itself and takes on different shapes over the course of three minutes, Burnett’s edgy distorted voice sounds like it was played on a broken CD-player.

Hurt Like Hell is like escaping into a dark basement club with pumping beats echoing off the red-lit walls for twenty minutes. Antony & Cleopatra create danceable tunes with new twists and turns making their electronic project standout, and unlike other artists this Duo does not get lost in wide seas and endless possibilities of electronically produced music. Recognising that it is not about who can layer the most beats, they pick the most interesting tunes out of the broad spectrum and arrange them carefully to an intelligent EP, and a ready-made playlist for any good party.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Hurt Like Hell is out now.

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