The clever thing about this latest single from Mark James, this time joined by Tru Osborne, is the smart merging of past and present. As I mentioned before when Miles Away was under my reviewer’s pen, there is something of the classic, 70’s funk-soul about the way James’ constructs songs, as well as something a bit subversive and slightly off the mainstream. But each step back into sonic nostalgia is matched by an equally confident step into the future, the result being the perfect blend of “way back when” and “where next?”
It is this ability to create his own music from both trademark classic sounds and forward thinking leaps of faith that makes his music both fresh and familiar. Systm Ovld doesn’t pander to modern trends, ignores the fad and fashion driven urges of his less imaginative competitors but instead pitches himself somewhere between revivalist and trendsetter, and in doing so reminds us of the cyclical nature of music. But even with a working knowledge of how the recurring zeitgeist works, knowing that everything comes around again in one form or another, its all about catching the wave at the right time and here we have there sound of an artist hitting the water just as the next wave builds.
The result of such excellent timing is that by the time the rest of the pack notice, Mark James will be way ahead his competitors and whilst they might seek to copy his deft blend of seventies soul and future funk, his cool contemporary dance vibes and restrained yet effective cross genre grooves, all they will be able to do is ride in his wake. That said, whilst timing is indeed everything, you need to have something genuinely exciting to deliver in the first place and Systm Ovld is nothing if not exactly that.