12 records

True story: last week, I was trying to find something in my iTunes rotation to please a group of run-of-the-mill indie rockers temporarily co-habitating. These are good people, but not exactly fans of electronic music and have little interest in what they consider essentially synthetic music. I tried out a few favorite releases before settling on Deep88 & Laura’s “Summer Can’t Wave Goodbye”. And there was silence. At certain point, the room went quiet, hands went to chins and the unanimous verdict was that for the first time in their lives, House Music had something to say to them. It was really fantastic to watch, and, more to the point, anyone that can break those kinds of barriers is someone you should keep an eye on.

How many years ago was it that I was begging people to check out the authentic House sound of South Africa instead of the carpetbaggers clogging up airports in a rush to capitalize upon it? Well, now I’m going to tell you – these Italian Deep House cats are often hard to access (the best prefer vinyl over digital, limited releases instead of bombarding every facebook page in existence with beatport links) but if you haven’t caught on yet, you’re really missing out. There is a renaissance afoot here, not so much a well-kept secret to most but certainly an enigma to those reliant upon digital downloads and their masturbatory Top 10 charts to discover new music.

Deep88’s latest 12 Records masterpiece, House of 12, is a collection of subtle but powerful tunes – mostly downtempo, but beautiful to the ear and more adventurous than the watered-down hip hop that often passes for chill-out music these days. Dario Damerini’s “SS16” (a mysterious title, but these guys seem to enjoy playing around with a sense of mystery that I find adorable) is a gorgeous downtempo track with Deep House-style vocal snips and a playful electro bassline. Melchior Sultana’s “Kindred Spirit” isn’t just “jazzy” – with irregular but absorbing rhythms from the get-go, “acid jazz” is almost the only sort of genre that fits. USR – another mystery, as I haven’t the faintest clue who this is and from the notes, Deep88 might not know either – contributes “Rimini Sud”, a moody piece of art with steely percussion and a rich texture of tones that wash over you in the most pleasant manner. You can play around with the pitch control quite a bit on this one without losing a bit of the art and only minor distortions to some absolutely virtuoso keyboard work. And moving in that same general direction is Deep88’s own “La Beija”, a vibrant Deep House track with a slow, churning groove familiar to fans of the more emotional, techy house from whereabouts Detroit.

House of 12 is available on vinyl only; if your 1200s are collecting dust in the backroom, let this be your incentive to bust those bastards out and fall in love again.