Chasing Kurt: From the Inside

There's an interesting backstory to Chasing Kurt's formation. Having crafted tracks in their Giessen, Germany home base, long-time deep house lovers Pascal Blanché and Wojtek Kutschke felt the material needed vocals to make it feel complete. Then, DJing one night at a Giessen bar, Kutschke overheard Lukas Poloczek singing some phrases while closing the bar and asked him if he'd be interested in singing on the tracks he and Blanché had produced, a move that led to Chasing Kurt's 2010 birth. The release of five EPs now brings us to the trio's full-length debut (also Suol's fifth full-length release) From the Inside, fifty-seven minutes of vocal-heavy deep house tracks. It's an effective combination, given how seamlessly Poloczek's smooth voice blends into the outfit's polished arrangements, though it should be noted that Chasing Kurt eschews the ecstatic, over-the-top style sometimes associated with deep house for a comparatively cooler and more restrained delivery.

The album itself is on the whole solid if not free of imperfection. Opening From The Inside with the emotive, stripped-down ballad “Family Guys” turns out to be a not-so-great move, not so much on account of its lugubrious tone but because Poloczek's vocal, while suitably impassioned, is slightly off-pitch in a few places. A better choice would have been the second cut, “Lose Myself,” which offers an enticing introduction to Chasing Kurt's signature blend of soulful vocalizing and elegant deep house rhythms, even if its downtempo groove still feels a tad sleepy.

The album hits its stride with the floor-filling third cut, “Heavenly,” and it's here where Chasing Kurt truly shines. Accompanied by a high-pitched string drone and warm chords, the tune's infectious house pattern locks into place immediately, and the addition of a muscular bass pulse, disco hi-hats, and Poloczek's exquisitely calibrated vocal makes the song title seem entirely fitting. While his passionate, multi-tracked croon on “From the Inside” (“Emptiness…loneliness…disappear when you get by my side”) is as effective, the song's impact is as much rooted in the punchy synths-and-piano groove Blanché and Kutschke craft for it. Poloczek's agile delivery is also strong on “Running Searching” and “Money,” so much so that the tracks reveal just how integral his emotionally charged persona is to Chasing Kurt's identity. Bolstered by strong vocal hooks (“Blame it on the money”) and an aggressive uptempo pulse, “Money” also includes contributions from Suol label heads Chopstick & Johnjon and was previously featured on Maya Jane Cole's DJ-Kicks mix.

The trio mirrors the album's opening by ending it with a drumless ballad, “This is My Religion,” though the closer's the more successful of the two in featuring a better vocal by Poloczek; his delivery is as passionate as anywhere else on the collection but this time firmly on-pitch. From The Inside also clearly reveals how strong an affection Chasing Kurt has for deep house jams both slinky (“In Control”) and bluesy (“Take Me Home,” “It Shines On Me”).

August-September 2013