Album Review: Fur Coat / ‘Mind Over Matter’ (Crosstown Rebels)


Masterminding an invitation to a polysexual masked ball with everyone’s Eyes Wide Shut, Fur Coat parade like a lip-biting peacock. And not in a naughty but nice way either; insolence is a punishable offense, and enjoyment will be laid down in spite of that sleeve wanting to give the game away. Taut deep house using bossy bass babbles, emptiness and space as a method of mind control (there’s not much going on, but therein lies the intensity) turns the dance floor into a blackened reserve (one dimensional though it may be) of unspoken decadence. As Crosstown Rebels do with snapping regularity.

From stiflingly humid (“You and I” serving the type of chain-smoking, Mia Wallace lyricism that marks the album’s pleasure-pain points) to comfortably musty (“She’s All Good” inching towards the back with a summoning falsetto, the funky for all seasons “Falls Away”), you always feel at the beck and call of Venezuelans Sergio Munoz and Israel Sunshine, rather than the two welcoming you into their den of inequity. “Change Resistance” increases the pressure by dropping the beats back down, “This is the End” finishes by sourly sealing fates, while “Space Ballad” is suitably robotic. You have every right to feel nervous around Mind Over Matter, its refusal to loosen up treating the club like a trial by fire, so get equipped for the most nigglesome grooves by night.
File under: Jamie Jones, Damian Lazarus, Craig Richards

Compilation Review: ‘Leftroom presents Laura Jones’ (Leftroom)


It’s not unreasonable to liken Laura Jones to the queen of deep house following releases on Crosstown Rebels and Visionquest. Does such a title translate into quieter and stormier quiet storms, and are queen and ice queen one and the same? Well, the Leeds-based spinner does do textured grooving keen to defy typecasting. Soulade’s excellent, deep to the point of sounding disgusted “Fora da Chuva” is a sure way to get noticed straight away, well followed by a Burial-like remix of Homeboy’s “Halfway” by Youandewan as dimensions and boundaries receive assertive pushes.

After such an exceptional opening, there is a pullback cooking on a lower heat, fixing heads into the accepted downward position as bass rhythms settle into fading to the black of the arena or the hazy orange of the setting sun (step up, Ultrasone’s “Here and So Far”), and the remainder of the mix, tightly prepared as it is, never quite gets back to its opening heights. At least intrigue persists elsewhere, where a thin air of mystery circulates My Favorite Robot’s storybook electro vanquisher, Polyrhythmics’ desire to float and Studio B making things go bump in the night. Overflowing with classiness for dusky stalkers and evening shade-seekers, even if, dare it be uttered, it’s a little more conformist than the opening sequence lets on.
File under: Tevo Howard, Matt Tolfrey, Ryan Crosson

Album Review: Amirali / ‘In Time’ (Crosstown Rebels)


In Time has its roots in ’80s electro-pop and synth house, where Amirali Shahrestani credibly demonstrates cool for both genres, both past and present. Those styles are only the tip of an iceberg that Amirali chips away at. Shorts of ambiance and the downtempo want companionship and solitude in equal measure — “Painting on a Canvas” confirms Amirali’s enigma early on, minus his soon-dominant sleepy vocal. Into deep house, Amirali gently kicks on (“Beautiful World,” “Hear Me”) yet asserts caution and reels in his personal safety net, building a complex cross-section of calm and calculating. As the title suggests, he does everything by his watch.

The general air would appear frustrated or defeated. That’s not the case, but disappointment lingers into a smother — none of the usual synth wondrousness here. Paired with his ghost-trained, washed out lyrics giving guru-like status updates (“Missing” and “Just An Illusion” making long, guiding microphone inhalations), Amirali creates a tight-lipped nervousness. The Iranian/Canadian works reclusive behavior that nudges into the pop sphere and onto the dance floor, where he eventually stays put in a kind of half-awakening. When “Midnight Train” provides a slight lift and “My Way” works to a true Crosstown groove, the key is not to get too comfortable: that’s when you are most vulnerable, and that’s just where Amirali’s sly persuasiveness wants you.
File under: Strict Border, Hot Chip