Loco Dice: In The House

In which Loco Dice (Tunisia-born and Düsseldorf-based Yassine Ben Achour) contributes a hefty, 140-minute mix to Defected's In The House series. The release pools the talents of two high-profile entities in the dance music community: the long-established UK-based Defected imprint is known throughout the world for its Defected In the House events, while Loco Dice, in addition to running Desolat (with Martin Buttrich), has issued music on top-shelf labels like M_nus, Cadenza, Ovum, and Cocoon. Spread across two CDs, his Defected release naturally functions as an advert for Desolat too, with four label exclusives included in the compilation: Jean Pierre's “Who U Mad At,” Brixton's “LateUp,” Federico Grazzini's “Untouchable,” and Nathan Barato's “Give It to You.”

After disc one opens with the DJ's own “M Train to Brooklyn,” the groove locks solidly into position with Loco Dice digging into bumping body-movers of the first degree (such as Matthew Styles' mix of Franck Roger's “Don't U Know”) and working soul, funk, and even a little bit of hip-hop flavour into the mix's earthy vibe. Insistent house swing dominates the first half, with Loco Dice keeping the mix in constant motion and never letting the energy level flag as he powers his way through steamy cuts by Robert Dietz (“Common”), Tevo Howard (“House Room”), and Catz ‘n Dogz & KiNK (“Bad Love”). Rolling basslines and an overall muscular feel characterize a sometimes tripped-out and often vocal-sprinkled set that climaxes with the irrepressible effervescence of Barato's vocal jam “Give It To You.”

That the second disc is the more unusual and idiosyncratic of the two becomes apparent when Glimpse's “True South” augments its bulbous bass thump with distorted vocal accents and Skudge's “Convolution,” pounding with metronomic fury, adds dizzying techno to the set. The quality level dips in places and a few too-populist moments mar the set (the inclusion of Diplo's “Express Yourself” the most egregious), but the presence of Marcel Dettmann's “Ellipse,” Alden Tyrell's “Rush,” and “Aztlan” by Underground Resistance duo Mad Mike (Mike Banks) and DJ Rolando rights to some degree those wrongs. As it nears its end, the set hits a colossal stride, as if sprinting for the finish line, before exiting on a radiant note via Kerri Chandler's “Six Pianos.” Eyebrows have been raised in certain circles over the producer's decision to appear on Defected (as well as his regrettable decision to include “Express Yourself,” the mix's rare misstep), but anyone worried that Loco Dice has sold his soul or alarmingly compromised his sound for the project should relax. The very presence of material by figures such as Skudge, Dettman, Glimpse, and Tevo Howard indicates that the release, even if imperfect, can lay claim to being as legitimate an underground techno mix as any other.

October 2013