Running an Australian-based label can be tricky business. Out of the dozens currently in operation, there are only a few that have made any notable headway into the international market. Sydney-based imprint Beef Records is one of them. Like many Australian imprints, its success has been achieved primarily on the back of the recruitment of international producers—several of which (Pezzner, The Timewriter and Alland Byallo) show up on After Hours.
In its five years of operation, Beef Records' output has been extensive. Its status as a largely digital-only imprint has allowed its releases to drift around freely online, which has led to a small but dedicated worldwide following. Their latest release is built around a concept: after hours clubbing. "Themed" compilations are nothing new to dance music, and, sometimes rightly so, are met with skepticism. But if you're listener with a penchant for groove-heavy tech house, there are moments of brilliance here.
The deep house of Pablo Fierro sets the scene from the onset. The Spaniard gives a lesson in mid-range reverb across his maiden contribution to the Beef catalogue, letting the looping synth of "Another Perspective" plod along without too much interruption, save a steadily building vocal and climatic percussive finale. Further along, Seattle-based veteran Pezzner reworks local Australian act Trinity & Beyond's "Near and Far" into a druggy but upbeat stomper, while The Timewriter's "Silkimono," perhaps a little bland on the surface, lets a vocal snippet ride a nice conga groove to great effect.
The rest of the highlights belong to the Australians (or the Australian residents, at least). Murat Kilic, whose rework of Oliver Koletzki and Fran's "I Might" struck a chord a few months ago, chips in with one of his most relaxed ventures yet. Sample-based production suits the Sydney resident's style well, and "Safety Ghetto" stands as one of the compilation's finest moments. Elsewhere, Shades of Gray's "Midnight Lover" might not initially come off as anything particularly innovative, but the duo's graceful command of vocal chops and whomping basslines has never been more nicely executed.
At times the compilation's flow gets disjointed—the inclusions of the somewhat overproduced "La Musique do Bresil" from The Deadly Ones and maximalist The Deep Bros' "High on Music" are prime examples—but every so often a gem emerges. And that makes up for the patchy journey getting there.
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Tracklist: Various Artists - After Hours 01. Luciano Nieto - Salamera
02. Pablo Fierro - Another Perspective
03. The Deadly Ones - La Musicue do Brasil
04. Trinity & Beyond - Near & Far (Pezzner remix)
05. Murat Kilic - Safety Ghetto
06. Karol XVII & MB Valence - Hipopotam
07. SCOPE - Feel It
08. The Timewriter - Silkimono
09. Deep Bros - High On Music
10. Alland Byallo - Sink and Swim
11. Shades Of Gray - Midnight Lover
12. David Garcet & K. Hocini - Hallow
13. Sarp Yilmaz - End of Days
14. Eric Volta - When She Was a Little Girl