Marbled World by Christopher Rau – Never Learnt
Relative newcomer Never Learnt’s third EP comes from Hamburg resident Christopher Rau, one of the city’s brightest imports in recent years, and an artist the label had in mind for a release since its inception. Resisting the urge to rush into the follow up to October & Borai’s excellent Level Abstain in April, Never Learnt’s bided time results in another classy release that wears its earnestness large, proving its early position as a go-to imprint for serious house fans is well justified.
The title track is centred and focussed, its repeating chord structure and piercing claps providing a solid base on which its elements can circle and evolve. Echoing oboe-like notes, strips of strings and bright rides and hats, all passing over a bass lick, give the track an unmistakable tempo and allow it to revel in its lack of embellishment, pure and simple house music to be enjoyed. Loot follows a similar pattern of understated rawness, its analogue b-line, crisp percs and brisk stabs belying a subtle melody working under the surface, while New Stuff slow-burns its way into the listener’s cortex, its ebbing and flowing structure, blending a rumbling low end that jostles with a two-note refrain and three-chord pattern, embellished with whirring sonics. A rare remix of Rau’s tracks from Lerosa, who twists New Stuff into a growling, snare-filled, acid-tinged workout adds to an already quality trio.
Our Summer EP by Various Artists – Leftroom
There’s something of a twist of irony that Leftroom’s latest EP christens itself ‘Our Summer’. While many would argue the season deserves quotation marks, these days you’re as likely to be dancing to some of Matt Tolfrey’s finest in Ibiza, or Exit, or Burning Man or another far-flung sun-drenched corner of the globe, so it’s not as far-fetched as at first seems. And the six tracks that grace the EP are decidedly on the warm side, so even if the weather is terrible, at least you’ll be reminded of the sun’s rays when you work through the EP, with Tolfrey’s A&R chops proven keen once again with a superb selection of house cuts.
The irrepressible Huxley opens with Falling Upwards, less garage-tinged than recent work, but displaying all of his skills with a syrup-smooth groove that blends strings, rasping chords and an arped synth that lifts it away from the depths. Tolfrey teams up with Sam Russo on Creature Of Habit, a slow-burning melodic houser that employs percussive brawn and an intertwining melody to slowly turn up the heat, while Pezzner’s Need More is a shimmering haze of sound, layering sonics in an almost freeform opening, regaining structure at its centre to power towards another crescendo. Jack Dixon debuts on the imprint with Spin Drive, a sultry slice of contemporary garage that sinks its vox in fx around a revolving chord pattern to great effect, alongside the woozy, off-kilter vibes of Coat Of Arms, whose One For The Rhodes adds flair to melody with intriguing sonic tics and deft touches. Closing out a superb release is Jaimer Vincentie with True Skool, a live-sounding journey that blends chopped up vox, rasping percs and retreating chords.