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Album of the Month: Eris Drew ‘Quivering In Time’

Eris Drew demonstrates house music at its bright, instinctive best, and channels its healing energy, on her debut album, ‘Quivering In Time’

Early in the pandemic, not long after leaving her hometown of Chicago for a cabin in rural New Hampshire, Eris Drew and her T4T LUV NRG co-founder Octo Octa hosted two live-streamed DJ sets from their forest back garden. Surrounded by trees, the pair threw down record after record of radiant house music, mixed with intuitive energy and a technical prowess that can only come from a deep love of the craft.

In a time of pain, uncertainty and isolation, the couple transcended distance with divine grooves, bubbling basslines and joyful melodies, transmitting their cathartic force into living rooms around the world. It was a tonic: a necessary reminder of the healing power of this dance music we all love, even when it couldn’t be felt in a shared physical space.

Eris Drew’s debut album, ‘Quivering In Time’, channels this same healing energy, known to Eris and fans as the Motherbeat, which has guided her for close to three decades. Written, recorded and mixed in that same cabin, as she stared from her window out to the trees, she tapped into the natural adrenaline of her DJ sets, and sculpted nine tracks that demonstrates house music at its bright, instinctive best.

Across these tracks, ecstatic beats and breaks form bouncy foundations for chopped up vocal samples, keyboard riffs and rib-tickling basslines. Eris’ trademark vinyl scratches and record rewinds appear, creating the sense that you are right there in the room with her, sharing in her rhythmic vitality. That this is only Eris’ third official release — following 2018’s ‘Trans Love Vibration’ on naive and 2020’s ‘Transcendental Access Point’ on Interdimensional Transmissions — is startling. Even though she only started producing in recent years, there’s a flow to these cuts that shows a life’s-worth of stored up experience — it was simply waiting to be conveyed in a new way.

The title, ‘Quivering In Time’, refers to Eris’ attempt to “[collapse] present and past into the future” with her music; to tune into her memories and experiences, her anxiety and hope, and to project from them a sense of promise and potential. On ‘Loving Clav’, a voice calls out, “Good times come to me”, over a robust breakbeat and rubbery bass groove. An incantation written in one of the darkest eras in living memory, the track defies sorrow, its irresistibly funky keys will lightness into being.

Elsewhere, ‘Time To Move Close’ and ‘Show You Love’ are described as expressions of Eris’ desire for togetherness. A faint crowd cheer can be heard beneath the latter’s triumphant beat — the sound of communal elation as a musical instrument.

As Eris considers a personal past, present and future, so too does her music. Her sound is clearly loyal to Chicago and house music’s originators, but like those timeless tracks, nothing here feels anything close to dated. Meanwhile, elements of ’90s progressive house and old school trance are woven into the album’s tapestry, from the reverberating, psychedelic keys of ‘A Howling Wind’ to the tripped-out propulsion of ‘Baby’.

Toward the end, ‘Ride Free’ samples the speech from The Wild Angels film, made famous by Primal Scream in the opening track of ‘Screamadelica’. Eris’ track oozes with hope and determination, a paean to the album’s message of self-affirmation, joy and love. As the title track closes ‘Quivering In Time’ with a tough, euphoric flourish, it’s hard not to feel replenished. The excitement of hearing these tracks on the dancefloor is near impossible to contain, but what Eris Drew has made is an album for all times and seasons. It’s a treasure to turn to whenever the Motherbeat’s healing voice calls.

'Quivering In Time' will be released on 29th October via T4T LUV NRG. You can pre-order it here.

Revisit Eris Drew's DJ Mag cover interview here

Eoin Murray is DJ Mag's deputy digital editor. You can follow him on Twitter @eoin_murraye