Alton Miller: Late Night Fantasy

Patrice Scott vs. Andy Vaz: Split EP

With the four-tracker Late Night Fantasy, Alton Miller follows up his premiere Yore EP Full Circle with another delicious exercise in deep house. The warm sound of the earlier release is still present though Miller downplays the Latin dimension slightly and consequently the focus on beatific, mid-tempo grooves intensifies. He stokes an oh-so-deep vibe through the silken funk of “Be Black Baby” while a voice softly enquires “Who's blacker than you are? / Who's blacker than she is?” “Don't Look Back” serves up a tight club groove whose jazz-house swing Miller spikes with Rhodes accents and analog synth melodies, while a vocal chorus ups the soul ante during the marching strut of “Who Am I,” a beautiful example of timeless house music if there ever was one. In “Futuristic Funk,” a looped voice incessantly repeats “Too late now,” thereby adding a touch of delirium to the tune's stomping swing, after which the vocal line expands into the chanted “Pray for brighter days / Too late now / Lose myself in the future / Too late now.” Warmed by old-school synth flourishes, congas, and Rhodes melodies, Miller's rich and seductive club music makes surrender the only possible proposition.

Split EP's pairing of Yore label head Andy Vaz with Sistrum manager Patrice Scott is also a good one. Vaz is up first with a beautiful slice of old-school funk and soul, “Back to Square One,” that has a whole lot more in common with Isaac Hayes and James Brown than Juan Atkins and Jeff Mills. Accompanied by a wah-wah guitar figure and claps, a bullet-proof bass line leads a nine-minute charge that's quickly bolstered by a slinkily swinging drum groove. Creamy synth chords and declamatory horns intermittently spill over the pulsating mix and then vanish, leaving space for the rhythm to intensify and the track to grow ever more euphoric (and even, towards its close, a bit acidy). Scott titled his second Sistrum release Beyond Deep and the title might just as easily apply to the B-side “Aztecal” where the Detroit producer slathers shimmering stabs and congealing streams over a thudding kick drum and flickering percussive detail. While Vaz's cut draws inspiration from the timeless traditions of decades past, Scott's looks towards the future when its gleaming shuttle lifts off in pursuit of distant galaxies.

July 2008