Let's talk about House. It's been about twenty years since what is considered to be the golden age of House Music. The majority of vinyl dance shops have long shuttered their doors and the iconic Technique 1200 is gathering dust. Today, most DJ's exclusively play digital files in their sets. Nightlife has changed considerably as well, and not for the better. DJ's with little to no talent for mixing music are making bank. DJ Pauly D or Paris Hilton anyone?
House music never really went away though. E.D.M., (Electronic Dance Music) Electro and Dubstep have taken over. All use elements of House Music. E.D.M. is basically commercial house fused with pop, and more often than not, comes off feeling like the Michael Bay of dance music. Real House is not pretentious and relies less on cheap gimmicks, canned drum rolls and generic sound effects, instead building energy through percussion and focusing on the energy through the groove. A classic track from Sunday School in 1994 proclaims in a verse that, "House is A Feeling.” It's less about the celebrity of the producer and more about the music.
Flourishes of house have appeared in popular music in the past decade through well known artists like The Juan MacLean ("Happy House"), and Lady Gaga who fused pop and 90's house in her earlier work. More recently House was brought back to the mainstream by acts like Disclosure ("When A Fire Starts To Burn").
Currently, as racial tensions seem to be building, maybe returning to the ideals of House would be a good thing. Listen to Mr. Fingers "Can You Feel It" from 1986 with it's vivid and passionate description of how house music is all inclusive, and for many, was and is a way of life. House has a history of bringing people of different races, creeds and sexual orientations together under one roof, which arguably carries over into society.
The good news for house heads, is that in the past few years, there has been a resurgence of older and newer producers creating quality late 80's and early 90's, N.Y.C., Chicago style House Music -- while making it fresh with their own personal touches, indie influences, and modernizations. We are hearing more analogue sounding warmth again on the dance floor, through accented organ and piano riffs, liberal use of the hi hat and insanely deep baselines.
You can't escape this fact on websites where DJ's pick up a lot of the material they play out in public (Tracksource.com -- which is mostly house music, and Beatport.com). Just a few years ago it was harder to find more than a few quality house tracks with these characteristics in a week. Whether or not this new era will continue to build and endure is yet to be determined, but the future looks bright.
Here are a couple of recent tracks, artists and record labels you will want to check out or revisit.
Defected Records started out strong in the late nineties, went though a creative slump in the mid 2000's, but has been putting out some outstanding releases this summer as well as on it's other new offshoot label DFTD.
You can purchase the brand new Defected Records remix compilation by Sonny Fedora at http://bit.ly/1n4ROaP. It has some great examples of the latest in the rebirth of House.
Cristoph is a newcomer to the scene but he sounds like a veteran. His straight up approach is refreshing when utilizing vocal echoes for building energy and generous portions of the mighty high hat underlined by some wicked base heavy percussion.
Here's a short DJ mix of his at Soundcloud.com (http://bit.ly/1pbPhLJ)
The seemingly ageless MK — a true house legend — produced the classic, "Deep Inside" by Hardrive. Like disco era legend Giorgio Moroder's revival last year, this house music legend is hot again and remixing as much as he had been back in the day — and with much of the same quality and technique. Check out his uplifting recent remix of "I Got You" by Duke Dumont.
Also, here's his Boiler Room set from 2013 (http://bit.ly/1wLFxBR).
Frankie Knuckles, otherwise known as The Godfather Of House, tragically passed away earlier this year. He is remembered with a heartfelt Eric Kupper remix of "I'm Missing You" by Artful & Ridney ft. Terri Walker. This version captures that classically smooth Frankie Knuckles vibe. Also, check out F.K.'s more recent Directors Cut mixes where he fused disco, soul and house.
Last but not least, here's a short House mix I did for Beachbear Weekend 2014
http://bit.ly/1wLFZA1 or come here me spin the latest in House and dance music at Ramrod every other Sunday night — and yes that was a shameless plug. Hope to see some of you there. Long live House!