Personnel: Maya Jane Coles (programming).
Audio Mixer: Maya Jane Coles.
London-based DJ/producer Maya Jane Coles' brand of tech-house has always had a bit of a dubby garage element to it, but her work as Nocturnal Sunshine is more directly inspired by her home city's dubstep scene. Her restrained, atmospheric take on U.K. garage/dubstep debuted with 2010 single "Can't Hide the Way I Feel." a chilling dub track with a haunting, echoed vocal sample. The track reappears on Nocturnal Sunshine's self-titled debut full-length, an enjoyable collection of late-night grooves that gracefully sidesteps the dubstep genre's worst excesses. While Coles' solo debut album Comfort featured numerous guest vocalists, including Tricky and Miss Kittin, Nocturnal Sunshine only features two. Chelou sounds slightly out of place on "Believe" and Argentinian singer Catnapp sounds much more at home on the sassy, M.I.A.-esque "Down by the River." Coles is at her best singing her own songs, as she seems to have a much better understanding of what makes her tracks work than her collaborators. Her vocals smoothly guide the tracks without overpowering them, perfectly complementing the shuffling beats and warm synth melodies with minimal lyrics about driving and dancing. Even the album's most aggressive track, "Take Me There," features pitched-up vocals and vibrating bass that sound more ecstatic than menacing. Snatches of clipped vocals and reggae horns pepper the speedy garage workout of "Intergalactic." Tracks such as "Drive," "Skipper," and "Hotel" successfully combine knocking garage beats with airy, minimal tech-house textures. Nocturnal Sunshine is a highly intriguing showcase for Coles' personality and production skills, and contains some of her best work. ~ Paul Simpson