Francis Harris – LelandPosted by Bebe Besch
The Scissors and Thread record label appeared recently to a fill a void where house music labels currently lack stylistic creativity. The labels’ ambitions are to help break the threshold between dance imprint and indie label; promoting music that expands the confines of the club setting. Scissors and Thread is a Brooklyn-based label which is a founded collaboration by producer/DJ Francis Harris, Shawn Schwartz (Halcyon), Michael Scott (owner of the Atlantic-based and underground house label Soco Audio), and Parisian producer/DJ Anthony Collins. Helping to kick-off the labels’ vision, Francis Harris, who is known under his name Adultnapper in the dance world, brings a first LP to the label, Leland, a particularly personal offering.
Although producer Francis Harris has already been transcending the boundaries of dance beyond his work under Adultnapper by issuing scores for the New York-based visual artist Matthew Weinstein, the intimacy found within the micro-rhythms of Leland are unlike anything Harris has created. Said to be a requiem to Harris’ father, ominous backdrops are the basis for reflection on each of Leland’s songs, where the dance floor inviting melodies Harris is familiarized with are still intact.
Leland incorporates instrumentation work by use of cellos, piano, guitar, and trumpet by Greg Paulus of No Regular Play, and while creative intentionality is obvious, all efforts eventually blur in their wake. The music video for the album’s first single “Lostfound,” is telling; a blurred and faceless group of women wander the lights of a boardwalk at night with an accompanying gentleman. There’s not a hint of intrigue except for the video’s last frame of a woman lying motionless on stone. In many ways this symbolizes the album’s overall sound, a lost mixture of layered elements that while soothing, lead nowhere.
While all of the songs on Leland certainly fit together conceptually, their method of atmospheric delivery is what stays most consistent. Each song is unique, may it be the soulful female vocals of Danish singer Gry found on the album’s opener “Plays I Play,” or the sampling of running water found in the albums’ only song less than six minutes in length, “Mclead,” – but all of the songs blend into one another becoming white noise. No portion of the experimentation found throughout Leland speaks as a highlight; instead, Leland opts for tranquility amongst its songs, leaving little impression after multiple play-throughs.
Francis Harris successfully pushes the boarders of dance and house music within the collection that is Leland, but the songs are but a whisper rather than the shouts of someone breaking ground. With excitement building around Scissors and Thread and an experienced team to help back him, watching to see if this label and Francis Harris will push the limitations of dance even further could be worthwhile.