CODE First Play: Alex Metric with Oliver, 'Hope'
Alex Metric

An uncredited 12-inch record released back in 1992 inspired “Hope,” Alex Metric’s new collaboration with L.A. duo Oliver on Skrillex’s OWSLA label via Big Beat. It premiered on Annie Mac’s BBC radio show on Friday, but CODE beat the rip to share it here first. Metric’s excellent three-track “Hope” EP drops April 22.

“It originally started out as a reworking of an old ‘90s house record,” says Metric. “Myself and Vaughn [Oliver] from Oliver did it purely as something to play in our sets. But the reaction turned out so good we thought we should properly release it. Samples were cleared, and here we are!”

While acts like Disclosure and Duke Dumont have led the burgeoning ‘90s house revival with tracks that lean toward the groovy and melodic, the original “Hope,” a favorite of New Jersey DJ legend Tony Humphries back in the day, is more about the bump and funk, with a gritty, Muscle Shoals quality despite the looped vocals. “Hope / Cause I’ve learned to cope,” repeats a female voice plaintively. Taking strength from struggle is as essential a house music theme as there is, expressed in other classics like Clivilles & Cole’s “Pride (A Deeper Love)” and Sound of Blackness’ “The Pressure” (both of which dropped the year before this record).

Metric and Oliver honor the original track’s overall vibe and sparseness, but definitely do some sprucing: They strip out the live drum, piano and flute (originally sampled from a Melba Moore cover of a Bee Gees record), sneak in a kick drum, and add some smudgy synth builds and drops to make it modern.

The “Hope” EP also features the more minimal “Spiritism,” and the surprisingly maximal “Galaxy,” a grand disco romp (which Metric says was inspired by a disco party on Holy Ship! last year). Rather than present a cohesive sound, Metric says this and all of his EP releases are meant to “paint a picture of where my head’s at right now. So I hope they all do sound different; that’s always the aim.”