After decades in the game, Darren Emerson has been on something of a roll in recent years. His recent collaborations with vocalist Peter Josef as The White Lamp have resulted in releases for labels such as Sonar Kollektiv and Futureboogie, and now the pair has come up with "Ride with You," its first outing on Scuba's Hotflush imprint. Interestingly enough, Emerson wrapped up his 2013 with a solo EP marking his debut for John Digweed's Bedrock Records, and in some ways, it's hard to decide which effort is most surprising.
As a former member of Underworld, progressive house and atmospheric techno are terms that have long been associated with Emerson. Given that, it's almost strange to think he spent 13 years as a solo artist before producing something for Bedrock, a cornerstone of that sound. In contrast, "Ride with Me" sees Emerson distinctly moving away from the tones he's usually associated with, perhaps onto something fresher. It's certainly more intimate, sultry, and sexy, although some of the producer's more typical aural totems remain intact.
The original mix of "Ride with You" arguably provides the record's best offering. Built on a new-school house framework—all dub grooves, with plenty of soul and space between those sounds—there's also a vaguely bleak or even sinister air to the arrangement. It's a bit like Lazarus Q creating disco for psychos on "Goodbye Horses," only far less intimidating.
Boxed with some particularly choice remixes, the record makes for a coherent addition to the Hotflush catalog. There's accessibility in abundance, nodding to the label's flirtations with pop, yet this is all late-night club stuff. Mike Dehnert's take on things is especially potent, a solid, drummy, and minimal four-to-the-floor affair that cuts everything back to focus on hypnotic voices and a cacophony of percussion. It's the most creative of the alternative versions, with Emerson's own "Dub Extravaganza" opting for warm, building notes that should fare well with his established fan base, and ItaloJohnson delivering a pumping, snappy, tech interpretation that's compulsive and hip shaking, but breaks no real ground. Regardless, the "Ride with You" package is still one that's worthy of some attention.