Having started the label seven years ago, we're just now offered a full-length statement from Smallpeople, the young pair behind Smallville. The homely Hamburg label has, alongside city confreres Dial, carved itself out a niche as one of the most mature and assured deep house labels of the modern era. Key to that, and forming the backbone of the imprint's output, has been excellent albums from Move D & Benjamin Brunn, Christopher Rau and Moomin, with singles from an extended family (including STL and Sven Tasnadi) translating said full-lengths into more club friendly 12-inches.
Dionne and Julius Steinhoff's Salty Days, though, is the most coherent coming together of those two missives yet; though couched in romantic home listening, so too does it kick with an irresistibly cuddly mid-tempo thud. With everything—as on Moomin's The Story About You—as softened and inwardly fuzzy as it is throughout the nine tracks here, it might be easy for the synthetic sonic daydreams to turn into a quick excuse for a snooze. But alas, the tricks to keeping your synapses firing are the playful samples (check the 808 State-referencing bird noises of "The Loon's Groove" or the man discussing the relationship between drums and humans on "Move With Your Vision"). Buoyant but melancholic melodies linger long in the air and roam almost independently. The analogue percussion, too, is scattered but delicate, gently cutting through the pads to add some essential bite, thereby never allowing things to get too serious or stale.
There's never really a grab for your attention in any of the tracks, either: they're long and winding affairs that wait for you to come to them. As such, you might think of the album like an evolving filmstrip that changes with each frame and has new narrative details coming in at every turn, right up until the end. Each track tells a tale, basically, be it one of downbeat introversion ("Black Ice") gentle springtime jack ("When It's There") or end of the night melancholia ("Beauclair").
Like the distinctive and suggestive line drawings of Stefan Marx that exquisitely accompany each release on the label, the tracks here are whatever you want them to be. They seem suited to various situations, from snug Sunday mornings to steamy Saturday nights and romantic fireside huddles. Wherever and whenever you listen, though, you'll likely be transported to a world far away from your (and the) norm on a hugely seductive human pulse that never fades away nor surges too excitedly.