When Rick Wade keeps a record to himself and sets it aside for the Harmonie Park catalog, you know it’s gonna be dangerous. The meaning is in the title alone: Defining Deep is a record intended to “clear up confusion on what ‘deep’ really means”.
The confusion, unfortunately, is not accidental: as Upton Sinclair wrote a century ago, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” The underground scene basically defines itself as a negative – we often have to explain ourselves by first saying what we’re not. In dance music, what we’re not is the cake tossers of the industry that have far more in common with Van Halen or some other hair-metal band of the ’80s than “electronic dance music”. We’re “deep”, even if the records aren’t.
Here’s what Deep means, if we use Defining Deep as a lodestone.
Deep is something new, it’s not a reissue, it’s not a rare record pressed in 12 copies (and only 4 white labels that contain the secret unreleased remix that some asshole says is really the one).
Deep is the industrial midwest – the sound of our factories that inspired our scene and the sound of despair when the workers were thrown in the gutter and left to fend for themselves.
Deep is a human voice. Deep is a bass line that sounds like one.
And deep is House Music before Sony and Comcast held a board meeting and decided to bleach the color out of dance music and made it a manicured cul de sac for directing teen angst into a dead end.
Defining Deep lulls you in with some delicate vibes and then ramps it up like a heart attack. Side A features with a pair of roots-driven tracks: “Vintage” showing the influence of conscious R&B, soul and jazz, like a lost Gil Scott-Heron song; “Cruising Altitude” is a take on pure disco, the soul-with-strings sound that powered Salsoul and made a movement so powerful that the underground continues to mine it with some profit thirty years later. The energy picks up on Side B with the kinetic wave of “Symphony Dark” and the best track on the EP, the jackin’ “Quigon”. In just four tracks, Rick Wade reminds you where it came from and how to properly do it. It’s a record that’s less concerned with preserving something fragile than unleashing something powerful.