Aim ft Substantial – Nightlife [Grand Central]
And so our first visit to Manchester’s now defunct Grand Central, and underground crown holder Aim. Whilst Mark Rae was the figurehead as label boss, solo artist and one half of hip hop inflected, smooth soul breakout duo Rae & Christian, early signing Aim was to become the people’s favourite as the retiring perfectionist producer of often wintry, chunky downbeats.
I wouldn’t claim ‘Nightlife’ to be the finest or most sophisticated of his productions but it’s deceptively simple melody and rhythm seem to perfectly embody the accompanying lyrics, together deftly conjuring the essence of an emotion more often bludgeoned, and not appearing on any of his albums but as a B-side on a single from cult sleeper Hinterland it is a rarity worthy of attention.
The thing is the rap. Sometime GC collaborator Substantial distills the endless nights out that consumed the decade for me – friends as nutty comrades, dance as a chance of romance and partying as a way of life – without resorting to latter-day Black Eyed Peas-style euro club stylings and banal call and response. Like the best raps, this is laid back and reflective storytelling that remains swift, complex, multidisciplinary and seemingly effortless.
Aim backs all this up with a dreamy late night headnodder that pairs the fuzzy lights and empty streets of the post-club hinterland with a shuffling beat that echoes the exertions that went before.
The sum is a low-key ode to the centrality of the social in life that on revisiting has me checking the classifieds for a dimly lit anteroom in which to shed my troubles on Saturday night.
‘Nightlife’ appears on Aim ‘The Girl Who Fell Through the Ice’ CD single and ‘The Girl Who Fell Through the Ice Part 1’ 12-inch, Various Artists Underground Crownholders [Grand Central]; Aim Hinterland (Reissue) [Atic]; also Substantial Substantial Evidence [Unlimited Vinyl Ink]; and mixes 100% Live Mix By Mark Rae, Grand Central Translation – A Mix By Qool DJ Marv [Grand Central].