Judge Jules: Proven Worldwide
Koch Records

Proven Worldwide is tailor-made to win over any listener with a professed aversion to progressive house. Simply cue the magnificent soul-house burner “So Special,” press 'play,' and watch as all resistance melts away. It's the kind of cut that transcends genres and collapses barriers that prevent listeners in one camp from hearing the superior material that distinguishes the upper echelon of another. The disc is a perfect companion to Jules' (Julius O'Riordan) recent DJ-mix set The Global Warm-Up, the key difference the amount of original material on each: the mix set includes two Jules' cuts (“So Special” one of them) while Proven Worldwide is Jules' 'artist album' and thus all original material.

It's a feverishly pumping collection of twelve jubilant house tracks, with the opener “Alma Fe,” a captivating mix of euphoric house and tribal chant, immediately setting the bar high. While guest vocalists Cara Dillon, Amanda O'Riordan, and Saf boost the emotive punch of “Ordinary Day,” “Without Love,” and “The Night You Kept Me Warm” respectively, they're overshadowed by “So Special.” Despite Marcella Woods' soulful wail, the tune actually starts out seeming like one more tired house cliché riff but, once the chorus hits, ascends to another stratosphere altogether. Still, even the most energized album will start to drag when it's almost eighty minutes long and Proven Worldwide is no exception, notwithstanding Jules' attempts to change it up by pushing an electro-trance vibe in “Rumble,” adding Tim Scott's Spanish-styled guitar playing to “Puesta Del Sol,” and—misguidedly—his own woeful growl to “Keep Me Running.” Despite the disc's strengths, one starts to long halfway through for some respite from the relentlessly pulsating groove or, at the very least, a change in BPM.

July 2006