The first thing that caught us (off guard) when we came across Chris Worthy’s maiden release [proper] was not that the 22-old (who has already made a name as a rising star) was Juan Atkin’s nephew, but the odd but poetically named track, “If You Escaped What I Escaped” — The guy either had a way with words, an affinity for Shawn Carter, or some sort of Avon Barksdalic encounter in his life (and lived to subtly boast about it). Either way, we were piqued. The record, which drops on the legendary KMS recodings, affirms that (as Terrence Dixon’s pummeling “From the Far Future Pt 2” did so last year) the city of the old guard is still alive with the new.
And “If You Escaped” is as fleetingly poetic as its title: It beckons with subtly echoing pads and a spaced-out kick, which gently swells the atmosphere and places your head on a cloud of anticipation. Purpose is found around the two minute mark, in a zigzagging riff which moves things forward with the pressure of a perfectly weighed chord progression. Worthy’s lucid sound design bolts the wheels of the track, as evidenced by his delicately placed hats, a clacky snare and rattle-and-echo. Yet there is space between the revolving bolts, and things still feel clear-sighted and uncrowded — like a less melancholic, more purposeful counterpart to Thomas Melchior’s “Who Can Find Me“.
“Paris Comes First” (the title track) is more Chain Reactionary with its chords, and aims for both the expanse of Deepchord and the emotion of timless Detroit. If there’s to be any criticism here, perhaps it’s that the sound is measured and calculated to the point of placid premeditation. But maybe that’s the record’s very strength — it’s a simmered and considered debut which carries the maturity of a seasoned hand. Surely, Worthy has gone to the right parties and hung out with the right cats. More importantly, he seems to hold the right talent to soak in all the history around him — and deftly re-imagine it.