UK veteran Brian 'Keys' Tharme shows he's still got the magic studio touch
The name BKT may be new to most, but Brian 'Keys' Tharme is no newcomer to the scene. He started out playing keyboards in 80s Brit-funk band Private Funk-shun, who also featured a young Angie Brown on backing vocals. He went on to become a key player in the early days of UK garage alongside Gavin 'DJ Face' Mills (later of Copyright), the two producing as Banana Republic and running the iconic Catch 22 label while Brian also lent his skills on the ivories to recordings by the likes of Tuff Jam, Bobbi & Steve and Ramsey & Fenn.
Tharme returned to the music industry after a 10-year absence in 2012, recording alongside Matt 'Jam' Lamont and setting up Soulfunktion Records with long-term partner-in-crime DJ Wally. Now, in his new guise of 'BKT', he serves up four slices of chunky, bouncy house music for London label Major League Hustlaz Ltd.
Funkalogic is up first, a midtempo track which marries disco-y chorus'd vox with a big, meaty synth bassline that nods to Tharme's garage past. Next up is the slightly pacier Liar, which starts out with simple, thumping drums then adds layered keys, some subtly space-y FX and a vaguely Let's All Chant/Disco's Revenge-ish "bom-bom-bom" male vocal, the overall effect being a track that'll work in house and disco sets alike. Synbad then goes straight for the jugular with pounding 4/4s, some nods in the synth department to vintage Chi-town and a bassline that's straight outta South London circa 1998, before finally Warrior rocks another big, buzzy bassline and some timeless Korg M1 sounds.
Blending wide-ranging influences from across the house, garage and spectrum with the confidence that only 30 years in the studio can give, this EP is an excellent return to the fray on Tharme's part and marks out Major League Hustlaz as a label to keep an eye on.
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: 13 March
Review Score: 8