Phasen: Gainesville
Dublin Xpress Records

Having previously delved into Boards of Canada-styled IDM, electro, funk, acid, jazz, and downtempo hip-hop on the self-titled Phasen (U-cover) and Listening to Old West Coast Rap (I, Absentee) releases, Florida-based producer and Unnamed Label manager Ryan Parmer now tackles house music on what's arguably his most satisfying collection to date, Gainesville. The latest Phasen set—fifty minutes of new material and four supplementary remixes of the title track—shows Parmer and house music to be a natural fit. The particular strain of house music on offer melds deep, minimal, and progressive variants of the genre into a singular hybrid of rich sonic colour, with Parmer drawing upon a liberal range of acoustic and synthetic sounds in any given piece.

The opening cut “The Times We Forget” eases the listener in with an atmospheric treatment whose house rhythms, acoustic guitar picking, and creamy synth chords grow steadily more Balearic and thus transporting as the tune progresses. A similar vibe emerges during the later “Ismaelito” when congas and vocal accents are added to the track's insistent open-air groove. In many cases, multiple genres are invoked. “The Truths We Will Find” gets a serious groove on by pairing the thrust of a jacking deep house swing with funky, dub-inflected melodic elements, and Parmer even includes a brief smattering of jazzy piano playing, which nudges the tune in a Cobblestone Jazz direction. Elsewhere, the title track plunges the listener into dub-techno waters with ripples and smears reverberating across a surging rhythm base, and Parmer deploys voice snippets as rhythm accents to deepen the funk feel of “In My House.” On the remix front, F.L.O. takes “Gainesville” for an equally supple and soothing spin, Nacim Ladj spritzes the track with an electro-house treatment, Nachklangmusik gives it a dense, hard-grooving overhaul, and Captain Random turns it into a piano-driven, deep house raver.

Gainesville isn't without flaws—not surprisingly, the otherwise fine “Floridian” is overlong at ten minutes, and the remixes are secondary to the original material—but it nevertheless collectively represents the most accomplished Phasen release to date. Parmer repeatedly proves himself a deft hand at arranging the tracks' multiple sounds—creamy synth chords, thumping beats, hand-claps, vocal accents, et al.—into consistently engaging set-pieces that move through numerous episodes without compromising their fundamental character.

September 2010