The Chicago dance-music institution Smart Bar has just launched its own label, Northside ’82, curated by music director Marea Stamper (a.k.a. the Black Madonna) and label manager Steve Mizek of Argot/Tasteful Nudes. The name Northside ’82 is rooted in the club’s origins on the north side of Chicago and the year it was founded, 1982; sonically, the label's aim is showcase the considerable talent and diverse sounds of the club’s residents, ranging from disco to techno, while also leaving room for involvement from faces familiar to the club’s 33-year history, such as Derrick Carter.
The debut release on the label comes from Smart Bar resident Ike Release, a creator of dreamy deep house (and partner in Innerspace Halflife with Hakim Murphy), who shows off his physical and percussive side with this bumping three-track EP brimming with Chicago house flourishes. The EP’s title track, “Dance Equations,” is built around a hypnotic and shivering groove, with swirling synths and an insistent vocal sample—"dance me, and I dance you”—that locks itself into the listener’s ear. “Bijou” ticks the intensity up a notch with gasping vocals coming in between a low-slung sprawling rhythm and slamming drums; “Direct Current” closes out the release with a slow-building, introspective progression that suddenly kicks into gear, filling the floor with attacking synth riffs. While exporting the sound and experience of such an iconic club onto record is no small task, Northside ’82 is in good hands—and looks to be a label to watch.
Ike Release's 'Dance Equations' EP is now available on vinyl; out digitally on August 14.