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Sax

by Fleur East

“Can you play that sax?", asks Fleur. Cue sheepish looks from her production team… Honestly, with this song title, I expected more from the instrumental hook than a rather fake-sounding identikit brass ensemble sound. It’s not that I’m asking for live sax, but they could at least have done something more creative with samples. There’s plenty of precedent in the dance genre — Alexandra Stan’s 'Mr Saxobeat' and Yolanda B Cool & D-Cup’s ‘We No Speak Americano’ both immediately spring to mind. I like the vocal sound, though: squished to a pulp, clearly, but a great example of how compression can help pump up the attitude of a high-energy performance and bring out all those little gnarly background details that are so characterful in slightly ragged-edged voices like Fleur’s.

Plus there’s an intriguing little moment leading up to the final work-out, where Fleur presents “wanna hear me sing you better play that sax” a capella. The note on “sing” is higher than any other she sings in chest-voice in this production, and also has that timbre I closely associate with Melodyne breaking a sweat, so I wonder whether it was actually the result of a last-minute mix change. It certainly makes sense from a musical perspective that she sing her highest note at that point, so why not give her a helping hand at mixdown if she didn’t actually perform it that way in the first place?