Founded in the late '90s, Rush Hour Recordings got its start not as a label, but as a record store and mail order catalogue. Through these beginnings, it acted as a vital link between Amsterdam and the world, importing the then-booming sounds of techno and deep house into the Dutch capital. Since then, Rush Hour has become much more than just a record store, and now, it's a highly respected label that not only disseminates the deeper side of Dutch house, but also has come to stand as one of house music's most reliable brands, with compilations and releases from such international heavy hitters as Carl Craig, Daniel Wang, and Anthony "Shake" Shakir. Yet, while the label has moved beyond regionalism, Rush Hour Presents: Amsterdam All Stars, its latest release, is an attempt to showcase the current scene of the city in which Rush Hour first made its mark.
A 12-song compilation, Rush Hour Presents: Amsterdam All Stars features exclusive works by both native Amsterdammers and those directly related to the scene. As such, the compilation serves as a snapshot of what's currently happening in the city's underground dance music scene. It's an excellent release that mimics the scope of the label by offering up tracks that stretch from peak time to home-listening material.
Things start off strong with the trippy, mid-tempo groove of San Proper's "Caught on You," which floats Mick Jagger-like vocal chants over a baroque disco-edit backdrop. From there, all bets are off as the compilation veers into the paranoid—and almost UK-garage sounding—techno of Maxi Mill's "In No time." The disparity between these two initial tunes is felt throughout the compilation, which seems to revel in contradicting any sense of stylistic cohesion. Chunky tracks (think Aardvarck's "Just Washed That Pig") like Simon Weiss' "Amsterdam Wave" and Melon's "Telephones" are neatly balanced out by jazzy and stoned head-nodders like Awanto 3's "Crappy Joyride" (what a name) and Young Marco's "Hoodoo."
Ultimately, it's a solid and well-balanced compilation. That being said, your enjoyment of this record really comes down to your appreciation of the Rush Hour sound and, also, house music in general. Though there is some rhythmic variation, the music is definitely slanted towards the classic and deep. For what it is, it's a stellar release, but don't look to it for anything particularly border-pushing or genre-bending. Yet, this is exactly what makes the release so good, as it offers a dozen tracks of quality house that will inevitably end up in many DJs sets for years to come.