Pépé Bradock: Deep Burnt
ne of the most lusciously gorgeous house tracks of the past decade, and a staple of deep house DJs for years, Pépé Bradock’s “Deep Burnt” has long overshadowed his entire oeuvre, not to mention its original two a-sides. Built upon a four-note orchestral sample from the beginning of Freddie Hubbard's “Little Sunflower,” “Deep Burnt” is able to stretch out to nearly eleven minutes of hypnotic bliss, augmented by rippling arpeggios and short, stirring kicks of funky bass and organ.
That simple description hardly begins to articulate the delirious rush, the almost phantasmagorical fever dream of shifting images, shapes, and figures that can slowly seep into your conscious as you make your way through all eleven minutes. For me, they are two emotional trains of thought that run through my head while the track progresses; the first being this absolute, unfiltered joy; this transcendence in watching these four immaculate notes effortlessly melt any trace of harsh reality away. The second feeling is this same type of joy, with an added sense of trepidation and anxiety. The latter feeling starts to creep in at around the six-minute mark, where Bradock brings everything down to just the filtered string loop in the distance. All of the sudden a vocal sample cries out “Wait!” in an equally desperate and exhilarating voice. It’s an epiphany of sorts, a moment that symbolizes when a person moves from accepting joy passively to seeking out a more individualized version of it. Let me expound on this.
It may sound far-fetched, but after multiple spins “Deep Burnt” unfolds like a reflection on the passing sands of life; that even in a world where hate, war, and disaster make the front page of the newspaper, we still are surrounded by such love, desire, and intensity. Perhaps we don’t know the extent to which these elements exist around us; maybe our stubbornness and fear is keeping us from truly discovering them, or maybe our experience is tarnished due to previous failures with people, groups, and ideals. So while the first half of “Deep Burnt” is akin to discovering this innocent, childlike love of life, the mid-point cry of “Wait!” is the wake up call of mortality. It’s a metaphor for that moment when you notice that life will never slow down for you, that there is too much in life for you to consume, and that you may never reach that person, that job, that way of thought that enriches your life in ways you couldn’t ever imagine. You can see this in the second half of the track, as it continues on with the same melodic ideas as the first half, just as life continues on at the same pace regardless of your age. So the amount and quality of euphoria around us may never change, but as the numerous cries of “Wait!” continue at the end of the track, there’s a stronger sense of urgency to capture and discover as much individualized euphoria as possible, because time is running out.
All of this makes “Deep Burnt” simultaneously tragic and gloriously uplifting. The scenario I’ve outlined can probably be relatable to many people as they grow older in life. Still, while my reading of “Deep Burnt” is a very personal one, I think most would at least agree on one thing about it: it certainly does not deserve to be tucked away as an obscure b-side known only to DJs, vinyl hounds, and deep house fans.