While Rush Hour certainly hasn't shied away from releasing native talent, it's never exactly been about hometown hubris. That finally changes with Amsterdam All-Stars, a compilation that groups together a formidable smattering of local artists and posits Amsterdam as a haven for all kinds of the four-to-the-floor stuff: classic-sounding house, deep house, house-verging-on-techno—you name a style, it's probably here in some form or another.
Take the opening run: through San Proper's humid funk-guitar groover "Caught On You" and Maxi Mill's disorienting but soulful "No Time," this isn't your average collection of house orthodoxy. Not that there isn't more traditionally-inclined house to be found. Tom Trago's permanently-bubbling-under "Once Upon a Time in Amsterdam," Melon's vivacious raver "Telephones" and Simon Weiss's piano plonker "Amsterdam Wave" are about as accessible and likeable as house can get, even if they're still underlaid with offbeat touches and bizarre sounds (the piano on "Wave" sounds acrid and warbly).
A collection as much about highlighting underdogs like Maxi Mill and Awanto3 (whose "Crappy Joyride" is the record's quirkiest track, a welcome diversion), Amsterdam All-Stars' best moments come from those producers who currently find themselves in the midst of a hot streak. Dexter's "Zamba" initially poses as a shuffling Latin-inflected number before a rude fuzz-bassline invades the tune in typically irreverent fashion, quickly turning feverish and unstable. Ever-out-there duo Juju & Jordash throw a wrench into the compilation's final stretch with their "Bleached Roots," made up of queasy, hard-panned hats and a lopsided jackhammer march that somehow feels both militantly rigid and ramshackle. NWAQ provides one of his loosest productions in a while, "Hot Liberty" suspending breakbeats in a sauna with appropriately steamy porno samples, almost managing to transcend its gimmick but proving a pile of big dumb fun either way.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Amsterdam All-Stars is how truly timeless it all sounds: a collection of mostly new tracks by current producers, it still sounds utterly unconcerned with sounding "up-to-date" or futurist. The tracks are spacious, the drums are huge and the melodies are upfront, but that's the only unifying factor here: there's nothing particularly trendy about any of this. As if to cleanse the palate after NWAQ's raunchy racket, the compilation closes with Young Marco's "Hoodoo," the simplest, prettiest track here, all cheap glossy textures and skipping beats, a gentle reminder that Rush Hour is never quite what we might want to think it is.
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Tracklist: Various Artists - Amsterdam All-Stars 01. San Proper - Caught On You
02. Maxi Mill - In No Time
03. Tom Trago - Once Upon a Time in Amsterdam
04. Awanto3 - Crappy Joyride
05. Melon - Telephones
06. Dexter - Zamba
07. Simon Weiss - Amsterdam Wave
08. Boris Werner - How Far Can I Go
09. Steve Rachmad - Boogie Moogie
10. Juju & Jordash - Bleached Roots
11. Newworldaquarium - Liberty Hot
12. Young Marco - Hoodoo