EDM artist Robi Insinna, better known as Headman, released his new EP “Turning” off his own Relish Recordings this past April. The artist released his first album, “It Rough” in 2003, which was received positively in club circles and by critics. Since then, has released a multitude of EP’s and remixes of artists including Franz Ferdinand and Mylo. His latest EP features both original work and a plethora of remixes from artists such as Emperor Machine, Richard Fearless/Death in Vegas, Murphy Jax, and Scott Frazer. The overall result is an eclectic collection of music that entertains listeners from start to finish.
The opening track, “Turning,” begins with a punchy eighth-note metronomic line joined by a light, poppy dance beat. The vocals kick in around one minute, echoing throughout the stereo field, sounding similar to New Order’s Bernard Summer. At various intervals, there are hints of electric guitar, egg shaker, and even xylophone, creating nuanced textures throughout the track. The concludes with the stripping of the vocals, then the melodic line, then the drum beat, eventually leaving only the original eight-note line pulsing quietly. A solid opening track overall, with heavy 80’s influence and a dash of modern EDM.
The EP’s third track, “Turning (Emperor Machine Special Extended Version)” vastly reworks the original tune, adding complex rhythmic instrumentation, featuring processed Djembe and Bongos, that underline the music. The song is also more centered on its hard-hitting funk bass line that makes the music much more aggressive and more danceable. Finally, the track’s use of synthesizer is far more varied and prominent, with soaring melodies and spacey ascending glissandos, complicating the mysterious atmosphere exhibited in the original.
Track five brings us a new tune, “Be Loved (Richard Fearless/Death in Vegas Remix), which quickly differentiates itself from “Turning” through its spacey wall-of-sound intro. The music drastically shifts around a minute and a half from something lush and atmospheric, to a driving, pointillist dance tune. Around 4:30, the music dissipates into another dreamy wall-of-sound, seemingly leading the listener out of the music. Then suddenly, at 5:30, there’s an explosion of squealing glissandos supported by a fat, pulsing bass line. The end of the tune is a slow descent into a noisy, atmospheric abyss, both joyous and terrifying, but ultimately thrilling.
The final track “Be Loved (Murphy Jax Remix) is nowhere near as strong as its predecessor, but still holds a certain appeal in its prominent featuring of a female vocalist, and its ability to utilize both acoustic piano and synthesizer. The song also is impressive in its dissimilarity from the previous track. That is, the music is so markedly different from Richard Fearless/Death in Vegas remix, that I’d be surprised to learn that they’re rooted in the same tune. The track, however, does lose steam about halfway through, as it doesn’t really develop in any particular direction and its energy ends up static.
I was impressed by the variety of different music I heard on “Turning,” as most of the tracks are spawned from only two Headman originals. However, I have trouble calling this Headman’s EP, as the majority of the tracks are remixes by other artists, and quite frankly, I found the reworked tracks more enjoyable than the originals. On the whole, this collection really sheds light on the fluidity of EDM as a genre, revealing that almost any element of a recorded EDM track can and will be manipulated by others to make something entirely different.