Virginia My Fantasy

The veteran DJ and longtime Ostgut Ton affiliate steps out on her own.
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For many of us, Virginia first emerged in the last couple of years as a vocalist, contributing impassioned verses to some of Ostgut Ton labelmate Steffi’s most standout hits. Her turns on "Reasons," "Yours," and, more recently, "Treasure Seeking," all proved that house music can, in the right hands, offer us more emotional sustenance than the usual cursory cries of "ooh baby" or "Detroit." Despite that, though, and ahead of an album pencilled in for later this year, Virginia’s first proper solo EP (after 2013’s Loch & Hill, which featured additional production from Steffi) finds her pretty much abandoning vocals all together.

"There wasn’t any intention behind the use of very few voices on this 12"," says the German producer, who far from being the relative newbie she might seem, has actually been DJing since the '90s and even held a residency at Sven Vath’s Frankfurt club Cocoon, amongst other locales. However, rather in defiance of her deep-rooted techno influences, Virginia’s sound is, in no uncertain terms, resolutely indebted to Chicago house, particularly the dreamy, misty-eyed stuff of the late '80s and early '90s, and producers like Dream 2 Science.

As such, it's not entirely surprising that the My Fantasy EP is a slavishly crafted, neo-classical ode that perhaps remains a bit too studious for its own good. Sure, Virginia hasn't just hit go on a load of sample pack loops; this is no plastic pastiche, and there is real definition and character in the sounds, but that alone only goes so far. First cut "Fictional" features a globular bassline, swirling, far-sighted pads, and prickly hi-hats that sound just like a lost cut from Steffi's 2011 debut album, but over the course of seven minutes they do little more than politely undulate. As a result, it feels like something is missing—a vocal perhaps, or a breakdown, or some sort of defining feature that would make it stand out from the crowd.

"My Fantasy" is similar in that it lands just about fully formed and rolls on from there, with little in the way of twists or turns. On a late-night, tripped-out, and half-tired dancefloor this may well work fine, but it likely won't be the tune that clubbers remember most the next morning, despite the heavily effected vocal coos that shimmer deep down below. Lastly, "Never Enough" toys with a more kinetic electro bassline and some carefully smeared and perfectly doleful chords. It's the most engaging cut of the lot; however, like everything here, it has all the ingredients of a great track, but somehow leaves you wanting more. It seems, then, like Virginia is still working to develop a production voice that's as compelling as her singing voice. Based upon this EP, she's not far off, and there is enough here to suggest that when she really finds herself, the results will be well worth hearing.