In the early 2010s there seemed to be a movement brewing, a movement both populist and revolutionary. It was lead (in their own quiet way) by people like Steven Tang and Hakim Murphy, Chicago Skyway and Hieroglyphic Being, Giorgio Luceri and Malcolm Moore. They didn’t all know each other but most of them did, and what they shared was a sense that somewhere along the line, deep house and techno had gotten lost gazing into their own navel. As a necessary corrective, they burned the previous 10 years of (mostly forgettable) records and started over, picking up the timeline back in the mid-’90s and taking it back to basics with the classic producers and their magical music machines (symbolized by Tang’s production alias, “Obsolete Music Technology,” which is really how mainstream dance music was thinking about this kind of shit at the time.)
It was a million miles away from what you’d hear in Miami in March at that time, which is how some people still measured what was hot shit in the scene. What was happening was a revolt against the sterile, boring and overproduced music that some people still think of as “that Traxsource sound” (sorry guys) by reorienting underground dance music back to its roots. Not just those machines but the records originally made on them — records by Larry Heard, Armando Gallop — served as a kind of audio reference guide.
Malcolm Moore and his Altered Moods imprint were just a huge part of this. They still are. Deep Core, his new album, marks the peak for a label that has seen dope records from Rick Wade, Jenifa Mayanja, D’Marc Cantu and Chicago Skyway. That’s a huge statement to make but this is the truth, this is the culmination of whatever that “movement” (if we can call it one) was meant to achieve.
Deep Core starts with a drum’n’bass track, and from the jump we’re in terra incognita. The four sides of the 2×12″ LP are symbolic of the journey, and it’s not a linear one. It melts away into “Everydaelife,” a seance of deep vibes, cloudy percussion and crashing hats like small tides rolling over rocks. “Own The Nite” (’90s House Rescrub) is as the name implies a throwback to the era when every house track that didn’t have an electro edge had one added via remixes, because dance music was still jump music. I don’t know, there’s a lot of beautiful moments on Deep Core but a lot of fun ones too — the uplift and flight of “Hot 4 Me (For U),” for instance. But the beautiful music is not to be understated. “Rodalies R1” in particular hits a state of emotional transcendence that many producers aim for but usually fall short of attaining.
There’s something perverse about the artistic mindset: when you think you’ve finally gotten what you’ve always tried — artistically — to achieve, there’s a tendency to move on to grasp at the next challenge. This feels like a walk-off moment. I sure hope not, because there are still people that need to hear things like this.
Malcolm Moore: Deep Core LP / Altered Moods Recordings (January 2020/12″ Vinyl)
A1. Malcolm Moore: “Three Sides & The Truth”
A2. Malcolm Moore: “Everydaelife”
A3. Malcolm Moore: “Own The Nite” (90s House Rescrub)
B1. Malcolm Moore: “Hot 4 Me (For U)”
B2. Malcolm Moore: “Faithful, Fearful”
B3. Malcolm Moore: “Lunchtime Gaze”
C1. Malcolm Moore: “Rodalies R1”
C2. Malcolm Moore: “Enllac” (Luvfatuated Micx)
C3. Malcolm Moore: “Purple Hindu”
D1. Malcolm Moore: “While You Slept (Despres De L’Enllac)”
D2. Malcolm Moore: “Regrets (Think About It)” (instrumental)
D3. Malcolm Moore: “We’ll Find Each Other Again”