Various Artists LPH Sampler 1
It's hard to listen to the output of Brooklyn imprint Let's Play House without thinking that the label is carrying the torch for DFA. Yes, it was LCD Soundsystem that called it quits, not DFA, but the group's retirement still felt like the end of an era. Considering that LPH head Jacques Renault released some of his earliest records (as Runaway with production partner Marcos Cabral) on the famed indie-dance label, and that co-owner/A&R man James Friedman also runs the Rapture's Throne of Blood imprint, there's certainly no shortage of connections between the two camps. That said, Let's Play House isn't rehashing, nor is it overshadowed by its more prominent neighbor. This label sampler, which showcases some of the brighter talent Let's Play House is cultivating, is a case in point. Crisscrossing through cut-and-paste disco, deep house and live boogie, the artists featured all follow in the footsteps of James Murphy's mirror-ball-loving heart, but more importantly, they represent the new faces of the nu-disco and house sound.
Take low-profile Leeds producer The Dead Rose Music Company. Much like early Mark E or The Revenge, he displays an uncanny ability for splicing up dusty dancefloor gems from the '70s and reconstructing them into hypnotic, loopy groovers. He makes the sort of tracks that wrap listeners up in the fuzzy warmth of vintage R&B and reverb, but still command attention at the discerning club nights that the Let's Play House collective is known for organizing. TDRMC's debut release for the label offered up four tracks of deep boogie delights, and his contribution here, "Your Kisses," continues the trend, setting the sampled refrain "time to get back" on repeat while funk bass, strings, back-up singers, and crisp percussive patter all crescendo around it. It's such heavily sourced music that it's hard not to call it an edit, but the term falls well short of fully describing this sexy, updated form of dance music.
Pushing things into late-night house territory, New York LPH affiliate Pixelife channels the deeper offerings of Damian Lazarus' Crosstown Rebels imprint into "Mystery Clock." The punchy bass and straight-ahead drum kick that serve as the track's backbone feel similar to the electro funk being championed by acts like Danny Daze and Art Department, but instead of toughening up over time, myriad atmospherics—from cosmic chirps to stuttering and stunted synth bleeps—echo in and out, and eventually hang around to lend a space-age sheen. As much as it helps propel a new trend in the music, in terms of sonic textures, Pixelife's contribution also harkens back to Orbital's knack for cosmic acid and techno, and Manuel Gottsching's stretched-out organic dance layering.
London-based duo Bicep maintains the EP's deep and referential appeal with "Echo Vibes." Aptly titled, the song flexes Bicep's ability to reconstitute classic dance rhythms, this time Jersey garage's boompity beat and Italo disco's arpeggiated synths. Burying them within the mix, "Echo Vibes" doesn't smack of either one; rather, it updates and dubs its influences out for the late, late set. More interesting to dissect than listen to, the cut does more to further the label's musical mantra—especially when it's sandwiched between The Dead Rose Music Company's glowing disco and the live-band threat that is Midnight Magic.
Much like fellow Gotham-city boogie troupe Escort, or even the analog-obsessives of Holy Ghost (now that the group has gone live), Midnight Magic equates to a disco version of The Dap-Kings. The nine-person outfit prides itself in making disco, boogie, and old-school electro sounds for a modern scene. Poppier than the underground dusty grooves of the aforementioned funk revivalists and led by bold frontwoman Tiffany Roth's simmering voice, "Same Way I Feel" exemplifies Midnight Magic's potential crossover appeal. Distorted sitar and trumpets conjure images of belly dancers and the haze of hookah smoke, while electronic flutes and plucky guitar riffing recall Men at Work. Moody and quirky, this final cut proves that Let's Play House is more than just another house label. If it can continue to release a similar caliber of music that's at once this eclectic and unified, it could easily become a prominent voice for retro-futuristic dance music in New York, and, of course, the party scene that goes with it.
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