The saying goes that “writers write” a call to the idea that you earn the title by doing the task at hand, a lot, and where and where ever you find inspiration. The same is certainly true for musicians and the most creative musicians find inspiration everywhere and in many musical forms. It isn’t enough to be just an indie kid, a rocker or a dance floor sampler, those are just self-imposed limitations and Charlie Baxter, the man behind grownuplife, knows this all too well.
My initial point of contact with him was as a crazy multi-instrumentalist in art-punk terrorists Oui Legionnaires, but from there I quickly got an appreciation of just how wide he cast his musical net, just how many sonic pathways he was driven to explore.
Present Tense is certainly a collection of songs which sit very much in the here and now, slick blends of minimalist dance grooves and infectious neo-soul vibes tempered by plaintive meanderings and hypnotic backbeats. But it isn’t just about what the songs sound like; it is about what they indicate. Maybe they indicate a new direction for dance floor pop music; a clutter and gimmick free next step in the musical evolutionary chain, cultish yet with real commercial potential, slick enough for the movers and shakers, and still accessible enough for the mainstream punter.
And even if Present Tense and grownuplife turns out to be ahead of its time or just an island in a sea of dance routines and auto-tuning, style over substance and record label production line templates, as islands go it isn’t a bad place to be marooned.