Somehow, the fledgling Amadeus imprint is already on its fourth release since its launch earlier this year, and despite this rapid-fire output, the label has managed to keep its aims rather focused, showcasing burgeoning artists from the deep and more cerebral side of house music. In that vein, Chaos In the CBD—a pair of brothers from New Zealand—has delivered Amadeus' latest effort, an EP with three lengthy originals and a remix from rising Londoner (and recent XLR8Rpodcast contributor) Jack Dixon.
When a few tunes from Chaos in the CBD first started appearing on the XLR8R radar last year, the duo seemed more aligned with a UK-indebted sound, utilizing skittering rythms and bouncing basslines that landed its productions somewhere between house-informed bass music and smoothed-out slices of UK funky. However, on the Dusty Sundays EP, Chaos in the CBD's London-linked inclinations are reigned in, resulting in a wider snapshot of house music that incorporates as much from the UK school as it does classic Detroit and Chicago. Across all three original tunes, the brotherly pair shows an increased skill for remarkably clean production—all of the sounds appear to have been finely combed, with not one element jumping out of place, resulting in tracks that move as solid blocks of heavy, loaded house. Still, the overall sonic picture is subdued, with no one part taking the lead as chords, melodies, and vocals are all rendered distant by layers of processing.
For the most part, the EP has a laid-back feel, and with a tempo that steadily simmers just above 120 bpm, the songs here are perhaps most appropriate for mellower dancefloors—possibly in the early hours of the evening or much later on, when one needs to wind down to less anthemic pieces of four-on-the-floor. The title track and "Girl Like You" are the most driving efforts to be heard here, employing garage-like swings and strong basslines. But even these cuts come off a bit too stoney, as the silky chords and reverb-washed vocals and melodies have trouble sinking in. The final original to appear on the tracklist, "In Between," digs even deeper into a world of subdued house, lacing the expansive, rolling tune with ghostly pads and a rich combination of lush tones.
Jack Dixon closes out the affair with a seven-plus minute rework of "Dusty Sunday," and from the onset, it's apparent that Dixon's talent is a step above that of his remixees. The London producer injects the title track with a welcome dose of energy and polish, dancing around the tune's modest chord progression with a new sense of playfulness, largely thanks to some deliciously tuned and rearranged percussion. Dixon's rework serves as the EP's highlight and also a reminder that it takes time to hone one's skills as a purveyor of sophisticated, subtle house music. Chaos in the CBD certainly appears to be off to a good start, but the duo still has a ways to go.