THEY’RE on such a hot streak these days; Mancunian fun legends A Certain Ratio have been absolutely on fire, creatively so vivacious and so irresistibly taut, since ACR Loco dropped in the final days of last summer, an album of which we commented “effortless Mancunian pop and the tautest funk remade anew.” “Yo Yo Gi” in particular was absolutely irresistible. Insistent, tightly wound, arguably dance track of the year.
That creative roll continues as they announce a new EP, ACR:EPA, out on Mute on May 7th; and you can hear a first track from that, “Wonderland”, below.
The story of the new EP unfolds thus: last March 2020, ACR gathered at Oxygene in Salford for an informal weekend in the studio, with no agenda and no preconceived ideas.
Those gathered – Martin Moscrop, Jez Kerr, Donald Johnson, Denise Johnson, Anthony Quigley and Matt Steele – convened in part to celebrate the mixdown of ACR Loco. But get that calibre of musical creativity together and you’re guaranteed that only good things will come.
ACR:EPA is a four-track collection that centres around the studio jams that took place with Denise. These sessions transpired to be their last together after Denise died unexpectedly later in the year.
The band say: “We’re so happy with the results and the outcome; hopefully this release gives an insight into how much fun and energy Denise would always bring to a session when we recorded together.
“Denise was on top form and you will hear in places that she isn’t actually singing words because we hadn’t written all the lyrics yet.
“At the end of ‘Down and Dirty (Jam 2)’ you can hear us cheering in the background as Denise had completed yet another fantastic vocal take and was laughing and saying ‘I enjoyed that’.
“We wanted to keep all her laughter and our response in the track as it has such warmth and it highlights the real Denise, always laughing and smiling and full of passion.” That’s as good a tribute to her vivacity and her talent as you’ll get.
This EP is the first in a series of three; ACR:EPC will focus on collaboration and is dedicated to Andrew Weatherall, who was in part responsible for the band reigniting, and the triptych will conclude with ACR:EPR – which they describe as “anything goes”!
“Wonderland” is unmistakably ACR, fuzzy raw bass, a hypnotic Eastern feel, Denise both wholly within and gliding above a dreamlike jazz-funk groove.
Tickets are now on sale for ACR’s winter tour, with a new festival date added at the end of the summer. The dates are as follows – click through for tickets and more information on each show:
September 3rd, London, Wide Awake festival, Brockwell;
November 3rd, 2021, Huddersfield, The Parish;
November 4th, Newcastle, St Dom’s Social Club;
November 5th, Manchester, Gorilla;
November 6th, Stoke-on-Trent, The Sugarmill;
November 7th, York, The Crescent;
November 9th, Birmingham, Hare & Hounds;
November 10th, Southampton, Engine Rooms;
November 11th, Brighton, CHALK (formerly The Haunt);
November 12th, Bristol, The Exchange;
November 13th London, EartH, Hackney;
November 15th, Preston, The Ferrett;
November 16th, Leeds, The Warehouse, and
November 17th, Glasgow, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.
A Certain Ratio’s ACR:EPA will be released by Mute digitally and on limited Valentine’s red vinyl on May 7th, and is available to pre-order now.