Saturday 20 March 2021

About the House

It's been a little while since that last one, and I was looking over my list of tunes that had picked my ear over the last week when I noticed a pattern. It's time again to revisit the genre that led me to this very site in the first place: House. It was French House in particular that brought me to this site all those moons ago - something that I really appreciate about electronic music and House as a whole is the sheer variety on offer, Acid and French House sound very different on paper but they share the same DNA.

Keith Haring - Barking Dogs (Pop Shop IV) (1989)

And that's essentially what this post is going to be - a smattering of all different flavours of House to try. First is a band you wouldn't necessarily expect to come up when talking about House - The Knife. I adore The Knife, the sugary sweet electopop of Deep Cuts is delightfully catchy and Silent Shout's cold electronics make it one of my favourite albums of all time. This track is a reworking of Pass This On from Deep Cuts - all the tracks from Shaken-Up Versions are reworks of past Knife tracks done for their final round of live shows. And for Pass This On they did a really great job, the original is danceable (if a little slow), but the new and charmingly old school 4/4 house beat that opens this version make it much more suited for the dancefloor. The steel pan melody was something I was really curious about as it sounds a little dated on the original from 2003 but in a cheeky and slightly ironic way, but it's not changed much here at all, but with the switch up in instrumentation it doesn't sound out of place at all.

Speaking of old school, this one is an album I've meant to bring up for a long time now. I was holding onto it for a podcast episode for an extremely long time because the sound here is supremely up Adam's street. Another artist you might not have expected to see in a post all about House, Luke Vibert Presents UK Garave Vol. 1 is pretty much exactly what it says on the box: it's a sincere love letter to the retro sound of UK Garage and Rave. While Vibert is firmly in early 90's territory with the sound here - the UK Garage scene did continue for a loooong time, even after breaking into the mainstream and dying back again in the early 00's. We used to listen to tracks like this when I was a teen, and one of the records we loved was partially responsible for getting me this writing gig in the first place - Paul Rayner's 'Feel Me'.

So while I'm not the exact demographic this is aimed at, I have a real fondness for it still. It would be easy to discount it as shameless nostalgia bait, especially considering the amount of samples there is of the tracks being paid tribute to on here, but the whole thing is actually really sincere - the samples are part of a much bigger picture and aren't leant on as the main attraction or anything. I've chosen Heard It All B4 because not only is it a real jam, but it shows off an incredibly amount of the variety in the genre - there's breakbeats, lush synths, those classic shout-out samples of course, and to top it all off some lovely wobbly bassy bits too, I love it all. Here's hoping we see Vol. 2 sometime soon, it's been a little while now and there's no sign of it yet. But in the meantime there's plenty on this EP to get into.

And finally an artist who has recently come back into rotation after a long absence. Matthew Herbert (or just Herbert depending on the release) is an artist I picked up back in the Grooveshark days, with a track from this very album actually. Herbert's early releases were firmly in Deep House territory, though a different kind than the one I did the big post on a little while back. Bodily Functions on the other hand is a much more varied body of work: sometimes House, sometimes downtempo, sometimes just experimental - and all with a jazzy streak to it too. It's an album I have mixed feelings about, but that's mainly my fault as I ended up putting it away for years after completely rinsing it by over-listening!

There are tracks on it that I still really like though, Leave Me Now was released as a single before the album so as you might expect it's one of the less experimental cuts on here. It came up because a friend of mine was looking for stuff to put in a playlist for background listening, and I think this is perfect for that. I don't mean that as a criticism either! This is one of those tracks that is so smooth it makes the time pass by much easier. It blends a bunch of house elements I really like in a unique way, there's the lone piano and R&B-esque vocal you might expect from a Lounge style house record, but the beat and sparse synths border more on Deep and Tech House, even Minimal territory in parts.

And that'll once again do it for this time, I actually have some other tunes stashed in another post draft that didn't fit here so hopefully shouldn't be as long as a gap between them this time. It's not the coming up with ideas that is the issue, it's finding the time to write at the minute! Regardless, I hope you all enjoy some of the tunes here, and as always - Stay safe and enjoy the music.


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