Ralf Gum: Uniting Music
Gogo Music

I won't pretend to be the world's foremost authority on deep house and am therefore fully prepared to be told by genre experts that Ralf Gum's Uniting Music is a stereotypical example of the genre that paves little new ground. Even so, while admittedly there's no shortage of “freedom” chants, to these ears the uninterrupted, hour-long collection (also the German DJ and Gogo head's full-length debut) offers a goodly share of listening pleasures, and Gum proves himself adept at weaving soul, funk, Latin, and, of course, house into an infectious and harmonious tapestry. The joyous spirit that courses throughout Uniting Music's material pulls the listener in even more, and an impressive cast of soulful singers (Norwegian jazz vocalist Beate S. Lech, Monique Bingham, Wunmi, Mike Avery, Dennis Legree, Inaya Day, Rachel Claudio) doesn't hurt Gum's cause either.

There's much to enjoy: Gum warms the house pulse “Warrior” with Rhodes sparkle and silky vocals, after which potent vocal hooks and creamy flute playing boost the driving Latin-funk of “Kissing Strangers.” The upward escalation of “Elle” at times feels almost gyroscopic, as does the streamlined jazz-house of “Parachute” which also grants Oliver Leicht's flute skills a well-earned spotlight. Bolstered by horns and rolling bass lines, “Baby Let Me” strides with a forceful skip that flows into the even more steaming “Parabatu” (also the album's sole instrumental) while “If No Harm” gets a nice boost from a slow-motion synth theme that surfaces near its end. Diamondancer's monotone voiceover in the closer “All This Love for You” proves to be as inviting as the song's nimble house skip, and one cottons to the spirit of her message too (“House music, I love you”). Anyone looking for downtrodden melancholy better look elsewhere ‘cos Uniting Music traffics in jubilation from start to finish.

April 2008