These days, deep house is pretty far from being the ‘in’ thing. Many eyes in the dance music world seem to be pointed away from its slower, soulful and altogether considered spaces, instead favouring more immediate pleasures. While there’s something undoubtedly retro about a lot of deep house material – tending towards over the top vocals and 6am afterparty trips – it’s been interesting over the last couple of years so see its influence creep ever-so-subtly into more hyped regions. Joy Orbison’s shimmering waterfalls of synth on tracks like ‘Hyph Mngo’ owe a huge amount to its emphasis on melodic development and songcraft, and the music of smaller, but on-the-rise, UK artists like Floating Points, Alexander Nut and Subeena is steeped in its sound. Across the pond, the DJ sets and productions of Detroit heads Omar S, Kyle Hall and Seth Troxler feature regular injections of the stuff. It’s still around in its purest guise, but it’s just as interesting to hear less overt references across the board.
Brooklyn duo Wolf + Lamb (also the name of their record label) take a relatively pure approach towards deep house. Their music has an early morning feel, the kind of thing you might expect to hear closing the night for a bleary-eyed two hours, the remaining clubbers either too tired or too spaced-out to dance in anything other than graceful slow-motion. Of course, there’s always a danger with this kind of house that it ends up a little too tasteful, touching on background music for hipsters to take drugs to, or edgeless loft-party fodder. But there’s a muscle to their music that just about manages to avoid that accusation; their debut artist album (despite the duo having been around for quite some time), Love Someone, operates at a fairly swift tempo, managing to tread a line between being backward-looking and defiantly modern in tone.
Opener ‘Just For Now’ has a jazzy feel, riding off a menacing synth figure and punctuated with keyboard cascades that are a little reminiscent of Bitches Brew. Along with the next track, a rather beautiful Wolf + Lamb remix of Mock & Toof’s ‘Sunshine Boogie’, it’s the album’s highlight, both tracks dragging forth a brooding sense of menace that bubbles just below the surface. A little later, ‘I Know You’re Leaving’ drags forth a more contemporary edge, its rolling congas and slow diva vocal lending a tangible sense of melancholy that’s hardly matched throughout the rest of Love Someone. Their collaboration with Smirk, ‘Monster Love’, further ups the jazz content, its diffuse percussion almost buried under waves of upright bass and clipped vocal chatter. Despite Love Someone’s seamless flow and meditative atmosphere, it suffers from a problem shared by many dance full-lengths, bringing together a group of tracks that are just too similar in tone to provide it with a driving sense of purpose. That said, taken alone, or in smaller doses, everything on here impresses in its own right.
6Rory Gibb's Score