VA: Stilnovo Sessions Vol. 1
Stilnovo Music

Founded by Elle Stilnovo (Italian for “new style”) in 2009, the London, UK-based Stilnovo Music imprint presents a premiere label compilation that finds its label head contributing two remixes and an original to the fifteen-track gathering. Generally speaking, it's a solid collection of summery deep house distinguished by harmonious vocal melodies and lush arrangements. It's not experimental or underground by any grand stretch of the imagination but instead polished, sophisticated, and accessible. Don't, however, let its mainstream character camouflage the fact that it's also high-quality material on compositional and production grounds.

One of the collection's loveliest moments comes at the start, with Atjazz's remix of Sun Singleton's “Moment” oozing a soulful, slowjam splendour that calls to mind the similarly appealing style of The Foreign Exchange. The track's appeal is helped along greatly by a luscious arrangement filled with warm vocal and percussive textures and summery synths, and though it's downtempo not all of the collection is so laid-back. Soul Minority's makeover of Submantra's “Calinda” rolls out a thumping pulse peppered with chunky chords and sensual vocalizing (and even a Kraftwerk-styled synth motif) that's considerably more uptempo by comparison, while Ralph Session's “The Search,” Scott Wozniak's “I Originate Fire,” and Gentlemen's Club's “Dark Drones” dish out an assortment of driving deep house and rolling grooves. Elsewhere, thick synth stabs reminiscent of Prince's Purple Rain days add to the jacking funk powering Opolopo's remix of Sun Singleton's “Ready,” an electric piano's glow illuminates Stilnovo's sunny “Whatever” in a Rurals Jazzy remix, and Stilnovo's overhaul of Jaidene Veda's “If Only” sparkles irresistibly, an effect strengthened by the sensual vocal purr coursing throughout the track.

House's jazzier side is prominently heard on a number of occasions, sometimes in the instruments used, such as electric piano and trumpet, but more often in wealth of breezy swing that animates the tracks. Few missteps appear, though I could have done without the background vocalizing that clutters the Stilnovo remix of Positive Flow's “Dance of the Soul” and a few of the pieces might have been abbreviated slightly to bring the more-than-generous 104-minute running time down to a more digestible total (most of the tracks are in the six- to eight-minute range). There's obviously no shortage of material to dig into on this more-than-credible outing from Stilnovo and company.

October 2011