Innervisions is, of course, about all things deep. 2006 has already become synonymous with the return (though some might argue it never really left) of the deep house sound, but the contents of ‘Where We At’ is not deep house as we previously knew it. Although it carries the warmth and thoughtful aesthetic of its historical forebears, the Innervisions sound is armed with production weaponry and technique borrowed from recent electro-house and minimal techno which gives it a richness and intensity all its own, and makes it irresistibly modern. Âme have been the chief architects of this shift in 4/4 vogue, leading the way with their majestic, all-slaying ‘Rej’. That track appears on this CD, and while it’s been played to death over the last twelve months, one still can’t help at marvel at its originality, finesse and sheer…drama.
Stefan Goldmann’s recent smash ‘Sleepy Hollow’, with its descending organ keys, heavy drum track and fizzing synths, will probably not have escaped your attention when it emerged as a 12” back in autumn, but is worth the price of admission alone here if it did. The most recent Innervisions single, ‘Baroque’, from Âme’s countrymen Chateau Flight, kicks off the compilation and is perhaps the most anomalous track on here – a kinetic nu-disco cut that lacks the spaciousness, but not the groove, of the productions which follow.
But it’s the less anthemic tracks that really satisfy, tracks that you may have missed when they first appeared. Franck Roger’s sublime ‘Back & Forth’ sets a breezy, Latin-inflected swing to a fat bassline, thumping rhythm track and processed Balearic guitar lines; and Marcus Worgull’s brooding, criminally underrated ‘Dragon Loop’ is killer dancefloor material. Tokyo Black Star’s three(?) cavernous, pitched-down contributions tend almost towards trip-hop, but that seems a reductive appraisal for tunes as haunting as ‘Deep Sea’ or as menacing as ‘Blade Dancer’. Atjazz’s ‘For Real’ appears in its original form, and not the superior, stripped-down remix by Âme which occupied the flip of the 12”, but it is nonetheless a welcome offering, coming over like a perfect evolutionary step between the Sonar Kollektiv sounds of old (Jazzanova and the like) and the dynamic new breed which are showcased elsewhere on Where We At.
It’s the last track that gives the compilation its title, and it truly situates Innervisions in the extra-temporal continuum of deep (house) music. ‘Where We At’ provides a solid musical and lyrical manifesto for Innervisions: Produced by Âme, Dixon and ever-versatile genius Henrik Schwarz (whose productions never fail to impress with their sheer exuberant musicality), it’s spoken acapella from Chicago/Classic legend Derrick Carter calls to mind Gil Scott-Heron’s state-of-the-nation addresses. ‘Programme yourself to feel,’ Carter instructs, a fitting sentiment to strap to dancefloor machine music so fiercely soulful, emotional and human as this.
If you’ve been picking up each Innervisions 12”, then there’s no reason for you to buy this compilation. If, however, you’ve missed some or (God forbid) all of their releases, you now have no excuse – hand over your cash and immerse yourself in the output of a label that, right now, has a fair claim to being, quite simply, the best around.
Wed / 20 Dec 2006
1 Château Flight - Baroque
2 Âme - Rej
3 Tokyo Black Star - Deep Sea
4 Franck Roger - Back And Forth
5 Atjazz - For Real
6 Stefan Goldmann - Sleepy Hollow
7 Âme - Basic Track
8 Tokyo Black Star - Violent Rush
9 Tokyo Black Star - Blade Dancer
10 Marcus Worgull - Dragon Loop
11 Henrik Schwarz/Âme/Dixon - Where We At (Vers. 3) featuring Derrick L. Carter