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White Noise: Various Artists – Talking House Vol. 1

Monday, 18 February 2013

Various Artists – Talking House Vol. 1

Label: Local Talk

With all the hype surrounding the 90s New York and Jersey house revival scene over the last year, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the upbeat, timeless sound never really died. Prefiguring the trend by a couple of years, Swedish imprint Local Talk have steadily been putting out top quality house tunes since their inception in 2011, building up an enviable catalogue of bangers as well as deeper cuts that are all sure to put a smile on your face as well as a shuffle in your step. Having clocked up 26 releases to date, labelheads Mad Mats and Tooli have brought out the highlights in this superb compilation which is sure to please all but the most sombre techno-heads.

Referencing house’s golden age from Masters At Work to Rhythim is Rhythim, the cuts on offer come in a variety of flavours, unified by an all-smiling, all-dancing house sound. Fulbert’s First Time House is a great mission statement; warm pads leap energetically over an onslaught of detuned vocals and echoing handclaps. Later HNNY’s For The Very First Time is an equally powerful mover, an iridescent three-note synth motif reigning supreme over a great vocal that’s sure to get the ‘floor jacking.

Full LP Stream

For those looking for something a bit tougher there’s enough to keep busy; Dirtytwo’s majestic Moody is a deep, powerful cut, that takes 10 minutes to build over a simple bassline to a blissful acid crescendo (though some may say that it’s shorter, tougher Butt Jackin’ Mix would have been a more worthy inclusion). Later one of the rawest takes comes (unsurprisingly) courtesy of Gerd, whose NY Stomp remix of Mateo & Matos’ MAW Basics is a textbook example of the Jersey sound, a swung-out 4/4 anchoring powerful synthwork and deep rolling bassline. The basic elements are so strong that it’d be easy to overlook the details on these tunes but they are there; for example the crystal-clear handclap rhythm that lies distant in MAW Basics’ first breakdown only to emerge in its full glory for the second. Local Talk fans will know that the roster have a talent for for breakdowns, and these tunes show some of the finest build-and-release mechanics currently on offer in the house scene.

Although all the tracks stick to the warm house formula, there’s enough variation on offer to keep the listener interested across the twelve tunes. Wil Maddams’ superb Stand In For Love makes for a surprising highlight, with a warm, syrupy breakdown that takes it’s time to build up to a dusty, clattering pay-off. It’s only one of the tunes to make great use of live instrumentation, the other notable choice being Kyodai’s powerhouse Breaking, where live drums lend a soulful vitality to the whirring synths and singsong vocals.

There’s something genuine to Local Talk’s output that overshadows recent me-too efforts at the 90s sound. These tunes sound real and vital, and it’s gratifying to hear that these artists aren’t afraid to toy with the retro sound and bring it up to date (something the UK’s retro-fetishists could learn from). Obviously not every tune can stand out; tunes from Willie Graff and DJ Steaw can feel a little light compared to the high quality of the rest of the compilation. But even these more low-key cuts work well when the compilation is played as a whole, allowing the listener a breather from all the high-energy numbers. One could say that it’s a shame to not have any exclusives for the fans, but then again few compilations that include exclusives are as good as Talking House Vol 1. In general Mad Mats and Tooli have done a great job picking the best from their formidable back-catalogue, and the compilation is deftly sequenced to ensure it never gets too samey.

Talking House ends where Local Talk began, with Bassfort’s anthemic Moon Shadow, which builds a deep groove of burbling synths and a descending bassline for a good three minutes before coming out with a magnificent piano line that dominates the latter half of the track. Even listening to this track for the fiftieth time, that special, nostalgic euphoria that the piano conjures reminds you of the unique, vital power of real house music. It’s a feeling that Local Talk keep up with style for the entire length of this compilation, and with great recent releases from C.R.S.T., Anaxander and Kyodai this year, it’s hard not to start getting excited for Volume 2.


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