Lerosa: Amanatto

Among other things, Amanatto's notable for being Leopoldo Rosa's premiere full-length release under the Lerosa name and the premiere album project for the Uzuri Recordings label. The nine-track set provides a comprehensive portrait of Rosa's artful music-making and satisfies equally on both dancefloor and listening grounds. Listeners who've already been exposed to Lerosa's EP releases (on labels such as A Touch of Class, Uzuri, and Real Soon) will know what to expect: elegant and timeless house tracks that are emotional (without being over-the-top), funky, and sprinkled with a rich range of sound elements (claps, synthesizers, pianos, syncopated bass lines, broken beats, percussion). Rosa switches things up a bit by adding vocals to three tracks, two featuring The Oliverwho Factory's Darryl Caliman and Shonie C (the duo also co-wrote three of the album's tracks) and one featuring the dulcet tones of Shonie C alone.

“In My Mind” begins the album memorably with an artful blend of classic Detroit techno and Chicago house, replete with ringing ride cymbals and a luscious vocal by Shonie C (“You just want to walk on by me…”). An interweaving vocal display by The Oliverwho Factory adds a luscious dimension to the hard-grooving “Ordinary People,” which also works dub echo effects into its mix, and the slow-burning “Horizons” proves to be just as entrancing. If they're less immediately ear-catching for lacking that overt human presence, the non-vocal cuts impress too for the sophistication of their overall production design. “Substitute,” for example, cuts a beautifully grooving figure in its stepping mix of stuttering beats and mysterioso synth chords, while “You Said For Ever” is tailor-made for driving through the deserted city streets at 4 am; “Reflections” even sneaks in a dubstep-styled bass wobble in amongst its otherwise smooth sparkle. Still, it's the vocal tracks that make the strongest impression. The Oliverwho Factory's soulful presence bolsters Amanatto's Detroit vibe and draws a line connecting Rosa's album and the music of The Foreign Exchange; if anything, the strong results of the Lerosa-The Oliverwho Factory pairing suggest that a more permanent joining of forces might be something worth considering (a move similar to Nicolay's own merger with Phonte for The Foreign Exchange).

June 2011