Steve Porter: Homegrown
FDS Recordings

Don't let Homegrown's rather cheesy cover image of a disco ball embedded in an apple pie turn you away, ‘cos what's inside is simply stunning. While the prodigious Porter has amassed an impressive CV of 12-inch releases and remixes for labels like Fade Records and Nu Republic (over 50 singles and 28 remixes under his name and aliases like Agent 001 and HDF & Bons), Homegrown is surprisingly this Massachusetts-based DJ/producer's full-length debut. It's an exhausting and epic Progressive House sojourn through fourteen tracks, with Porter's masterful segues bridging them into a continuous 71-minute mix. Consistent with the genre's deep, dub-influenced sound, the album presents a multi-layered mix of synths, beats, and piano boosted by trance-like climaxes of anthemic waves, though the focal point remains Porter's irresistibly propulsive bass lines. His eclectic 'Porterhouse' style ranges beyond house to artfully weave elements of jazz, soul, and funk into the unrelenting mix. Sometimes (on “Sandbox,” for example) Porter wisely drops out drums and bass altogether, leaving keyboard lines momentarily exposed before the surging, stabbing grooves return.

It takes a mere half minute for the album to assume glorious flight. Opening with a slowly building shuffle, “Fluffer Nutter,” wrapped in a reverberant haze of towering synths, lurching bass lines, and needling piano melodies, roars out of the gate with a bulldozing stomp; gradually the exotic clockwork rhythms of “Between 9 & 10” appear, bass lines now writhing like slippery eels. Highlights abound: the coupling of bright, metallic bell themes with a Russian-flavoured classical theme in “Lady Elaine”; dubby, pulsating bass lines in “Beats N' Potatoes” slicing through a percussion army; and cresting, trance-inducing waves of piano and stabbing industrial machine beats in “Square Dancing.” While there's a uniformity to the album, subtle flavourings distinguish one track from another (walloping disco bass in “Bobbie Daze,” grinding synth sounds and clanking rhythms in “Swanky,” charging Motown bass in “Vodka Cranberries,” and jacking beats strutting through “Definite Form”). Taken as a whole, Homegrown is an ecstatic, even orgiastic, sampling of Progressive House, a dizzyingly rich amalgam of pounding beats and serpentine bass lines.

February 2005