Neil Tolliday's roots can be traced more than 20 years ago in the time of walkmans, hip hop and pirate radio when vinyl was still king and house was living its last golden years. It's in this glorious time of 909s, MPCs, 8-track reel to reels and Juno synths that the young Nottingham musician was debuting his first release on Strictly 4 Groovers, the label run by the DiY Free Party Collective, of which he was and still is a significant part of. Speaking of monikers, Neil has both an impressive history of aliases and a strong collaborative side, but it's with Simon Mills that the chemistry was the strongest. The Bent project happened due to the sheer coincidence of the two living next to each other and exactly 14 years ago the debut album 'Programmed To Love' hit the world on Ministry Of Sound's offshoot label Sport skyrocketing their name in no time.
The story behind Shabby Doll's 12th release is a remarkable one to say the least. Matt Swift has been running the label since last July and has already amassed a number of quality releases starting with the debut of Nail himself and continuing to stunning releases by Mella Dee, Squarehead, James Welsh and many more. It so happens that one day, Matt stumbles across a dusty, old DAT tape titled 'Nail - Trax 1997' and after a heart-skipping listening session he knew he just struck black gold! Yes, the same Nail who opened Shabby Doll Records has accidentally supplied this year's most lucky and unique house release, once thought to have been lost forever to the past of 1997.
'Lemon Gus' opens the first disc and proves to be a gleaming 4x4 house groover that packs both energy and emotion into a highly evocative piece of house music. 'Nerangus' means "awkward" or "clumsy" in Lithunian, but the song is nothing but finely ordered sample loops, soulful vocal disco cuts, bright synth stabs and playful jazz flutes placing it closer to the funkier side of house. The flipside starts with 'In The Pocket', a dreamy scenery of erotic plucked guitars, floating pad loops, typical percussions and a deep bassline to hold them in place. The construction doesn't stop here and soon a display of melancholic jazzy sax samples, soulful piano keys and funky guitars unleash their force. Ending the first part in full tropical glory is 'Height', a steady feet-mover that features a groovy bass, hearty congas, joyful trumpets and ecstatic vocal slices dancing around a thumping kick drum.
Stepping onto the second slab of wax we discover the only track that had been previously released, albeit in an edited version in 1998 on Remote. 'Brothers & Sisters' comes in its full unedited glory as an energetic good-vibe mover courtesy of tight kicks and swung percussion elements that intertwine with a mesmerising supply of bells, jingles and melodies and cheery vocal bits. 'No Mo'' kicks things up a notch into harder, rougher territory by drawing power from the tight kick, rolling bass and slapped drums while engaging a swirling array of funky riffs, twisted vocal loops and peculiar stabs and one-shots. Turn the record over and find '90% Down & Shit', a classic old-skool peak-time house monster that catches your attention from the very first pounding kick-drum. The arrangement is by far the richest of the lot, employing everything from loud hats, crisp snares and groovy bass lines to fascinating synth loops, demented voices and a spot-on sax line that will rise your temperature to boiling heights. To complete his joy ride, Nail unleashes 'Just Can't Make My Mind Up', a friendly edit of jumpy beats, happy funk guitar chords, cheerful melodies and joyous vocal cuts making it the perfect track to play on a beach at a sea under the clear summer sky.
So there you have it, "hidden away on a DAT tape since 1997, 8 raw cuts from house legend Nail are now being released as a limited pressing, individually numbered double pack vinyl".