James Priestley & Giles Smith: 10 Years of Secretsundaze

Judging from the material featured on this double-mix CD, the Secretsundaze name is well-chosen, as the third volume finds James Priestley and Giles Smith celebrating Secretsundaze's tenth anniversary with a summery mix of underground house music. Both artists' mixes exude an open-air, party-vibe feel that's wholly in keeping with the Secretsundaze aesthetic, with Priestley easing listeners in with an infectious and uplifting tracklist, and Smith following it with his own charging set. By the recording's end, you may find yourself feeling quite literally sundazed after being so thoroughly exposed to the duo's offerings, with figures such as Maddslinky, Metope, Locussolus, Steffi, Dinky, Anthony Shakir, Skudge, and Two Armadillos all making appearances.

An ultra-scenic seventy-nine-minute travelogue, Priestley's funky opening half is vibrant and effervescent in the extreme. A pied piper-ish sax motif helps lift Mark E's remix of “Rain Parade” by DJ Ageishi & Ackin' skyward, after which the mix settles into a piano-laden house pulse that leads into the Moog somersaults of Space Dimension Controller's “Transatlantic Loading Bay.” Moving onto Rootstrax's “Harlequin,” Priestley stokes disc one to an early broil before threading the soulful funk of “Taking Over Me” by Marcus Intalex + S.T. Files and the crisp sensuality of “My Name Is” by Franck Roger into the mix. Having established a tight and jacking house feel, the set shifts gears as it turns to the bass-bubbly, broken-beat soul of Recloose's “Ain't Changin,” and as his mix proceeds, Priestley gradually jacks the intensity level up until it's in full swing by the time Ghetto Brothers' rambunctious thumper “Ghetto Disco” rolls into view. A Prince-styled Losoul remix of Jimmy Edgar's Xdistrict cut “Color Correction” adds some Minneapolis-styled synth squiggles to the mix, paving the way for Locussolus's blindingly radiant “Tan Sedan” and Steffi's alluring “Kill Me” (sweetened by Elif Biçer's lush vocal presence) before Priestley digs deep into the vault for the set-closer, Voyage's still-potent 1980 pop song “I Love you Dancer.”

Giles Smith contributes an eighty-minute set of his own that's perhaps a tad more even-keeled—fewer peaks and valleys, that is—than Priestley's though no less satisfying. Wasting no time at all, Smith's mix digs into the dubbed-out house swing of Roosevelt and Charles's “Monastery” and the headrushing vocal chants of Daniel Bell's KB Project cut “Feel It” with gusto before slipping in Salt City Orchestra's trippy remix of Marshall Jefferson vs. Noosa Heads' “Mushrooms” (replete with dazed voiceover). With “Polvo,” Ostgut Ton's Dinky drops a steamy, rolling groove into the middle of the set after which RNDM's “Hideaway Lane” (from Dial's subsidiary label Laid) provides a dreamy, bass-burbling house calm before the storm appears in the form of MRSK's remix of Anthony Shakir's “Travellers.” Near set's end, Smith joins long-term collaborator Martin Dawson for the luscious Two Armadillos track “Ronin,” and then nods in Detroit's direction with the inclusion of Steven Tang's pounding “Ominous,” all hi-hat showers and claps. Fluidity and ease characterize both sets when their respective tracks soar freely without hindrance or impediment, and, while the mix is very much “in the tradition,” so to speak, the wide-ranging music Priestley and Smith have selected for the release feels consistently fresh.

September 2011