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  • Filed under: Review
  • 02/14/2012

Pick

Murk House Masters

How does one review an extensive compilation of Murk, one of house music's most prolific duos? It seems like it would be easy, but the sheer breadth of material contained on Defected presents House Masters: Murk is honestly intimidating. Over the past 20 years, the Florida duo's work has maintained a consistent quality as it's developed and grown with the global underground house scene. It's hard to imagine a history of house, much less New York club culture, without the work of Ralph Falcon and Oscar G.

Defected's House Masters series is a recent development that provides lengthy compilations of unmixed, DJ-friendly versions of prime cuts from some of house music's most respected figures. Previous iterations have focused on such diverse producers as Kevin Saunderson, Kenny Dope, MK, and John Digweed. House Masters: Murk fits perfectly into the series with a two-disc collection that blends newer tracks, old classics, and codified standards. It's perfect for Murk, a production pair whose prolific output extends beyond the range of its six studio albums into a messy network of remixes, one-off singles, and side projects. Throughout it all, a clear picture emerges of a duo capable of creating huge-sounding, big-room tracks that somehow manage to retain a sense of intimacy and complexity.

The record starts on a contemporary footing with "Amame (Long Ass Mix)." It's a bold choice for a retrospective when you consider that the track was released in 2011. Nevertheless, its musique concrète opening of a rain-soaked train platform serves as a perfect intro to the driving and hypnotic acid-led soulful house that follows it. Clocking in at a full ten minutes, it's a track set to slowly boil as its silky vocals and tough percussion work together to please dancers, whether they're on the floor at an early-morning Manhattan loft party or stewing in Ibiza's beach scene at dawn.

From there, the compilation goes on to cover just about all the bases with a few notable absences, the most glaring being "Fired Up!," a staple for both Danny Tenaglia and Junior Vasquez and one of the tracks that arguably pushed Murk from the underground into a more mainstream spotlight. Speaking of mainstream, the duo's remix of Madonna's "Fever" is also strangely absent. Then again, can you imagine how hard that would be to license?

That being said, there's plenty of material on here that's considered classic. Fans and students of '90s house will undoubtedly be pleased by the inclusion of The Fog's "Been A Long Time" and Liberty City's "Some Lovin'." Where the compilation really shines is in its presentation of some of the duo's less critically fetishized, but nonetheless classic and popular, material. These cuts make up the majority of the comp and include things like Murk's remix of Willie Ninja's "Hot," Funky Green Dogs From Outer Space's trippin' balls anthem "High Up," and the slapping gospel house of Bobby Pruit's "Tried So Hard." As such, House Masters: Murk is a great introduction to both the well-known and less-known highs of the past 20 years of underground dance music. It's an essential compilation for anyone, particularly DJs, interested in tracing the historical lines of East Coast house.

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