It’s Straight Up No Chaser and it gives it you just like that: two of the greatest deep house producers in Detroit (and that means in the world) select four solo tracks each for Norm Talley’s untouchable Upstairs Asylum label and Delano Smith’s Mixmode. Upstairs Asylum packs every release with as much music as the wizards of Archer Detroit can fit on each side, though here it spills over into a 2×12″ set, with Talley and Delano Smith alternating sides and then individual tracks. The album is loosely structured a bit like a DJ set, with two tracks perfect for leading off a set, transition pieces, dancefloor beaters and closing with a pair of tracks fit for a handoff.

Talley’s original vision of Upstairs Asylum was as outlet for B sides, edits, alternate mixes that were never released. He leads off with an unreleased edit of his “Blak Bottom.” The original was released on Frole Records in 2019; the edit here has undergone massive reconstruction. With a progression that raises the vibe of the room and then holds it there, “Blak Bottom” is almost like a theme song, entry music for either the funkiest pro wrestler or one of the most badass DJs in the world. This is followed by “The Flip,” a gritty, churning basement jam that serves somewhat the same purpose. If you buy this record and don’t lead off a set with one of these, can you even say you’re really DJing?

On the B side Delano Smith immediately opens things up with “The Bassline,” a slab of tracky house or grooving techno with big, reverby pads that rattle around in the speakers for awhile before bouncing out in every conceivable direction. Also of note here is Delano Smith’s “The Drive,” which is what it sounds like: one of those classic tracks that derive from the songbook of Lil Louis, evocative of racing white lights and the blur of the world from 65 mph in the windshield. Talley’s “ISO Vision” is such a beater, a slow-burning jam with hats so bright they’re blinding and a radiance so hot it peels the paint off the walls. Delano’s “Remembrance” is another sleek slice of sophisticated dance, so dubby you forget what other dubby stuff sounds like.

Norm’s music is so visceral — I want to play his records for everyone that swings by for a minute until they leave again. Delano’s is so visual — it makes me think of the video I’d make for it, and I don’t know how to make music videos or any videos at all. This record and the artists that made it and the label that put it out — these are gifts for the music scene circa 2023. Enjoy them while it’s happening and be glad you were here when they were new.

⚪️ Straight Up No Chaser Tracklisting

Norm Talley & Delano Smith: Straight Up No Chaser (Upstairs Asylum/Mixmode / 2x12" Vinyl)
A1. Norm Talley - "Blak Bottom" (unreleased edit)
A2. Norm Talley - "The Flip"
B1. Delano Smith - "The Bassline"
B2. Delano Smith - "Travels 23"
C1. Norm Talley - "ISO Vision"
C2. Delano Smith - "The Drive"
D1. Norm Talley - "Believe It"
D2. Delano Smith - "Remembrance"

⚪️ Disclosure Statement

This record was submitted as a promo.

⚪️ Previous Coverage

⚪️   Cover Story: Norm Talley & Upstairs Asylum: “This Is What the Underground Is” (2022)
⚪️   New Music: Music In Motion is Detroit House at its best (2023)
⚪️   New Music: Upstairs Asylum drops another V/A with The Sundowners (2022)
⚪️   New Music: Sushitech reissues Delano Smith & Norm Talley’s Constellation / Detroit 2-Step (2021)
⚪️   Feature: Norm Talley: The 5 Magazine Interview (2012)


5 Mag Issue 210
Out November 2023

HOUSE MUSIC IS A SPIRITUAL THING: This was originally published in 5 Mag Issue #210 featuring Levon Vincent, Gehno Aviance aka One A, DJ Disciple, the breaking of Bandcamp and more. Help keep the vibe alive by becoming a member for $2/month and get every issue in your inbox right away!

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