VA: Friends Will Carry You Home Too
Pets Recordings

Presumably meaning that friends will carry you home after dazzling you with two hefty discs of fabulous house music—the title might, on the other hand, simply refer to the fact that the release is the second installment in the label's compilation series. No matter: oodles of animals come out for this choice collection on Pets Recordings, the label run by Catz ‘n Dogz duo Grzegorz Demianczuk and Wojciech Taranczuk. At thirty-one tunes and close to two-and-a-half hours of music, the release offers a wealth of material to digest and guest remixers include Dave Aju, dOP, Justin Martin, and Eats Everything. The first half focuses on clubby house and techno tracks, whereas the second branches out into downtempo diversity, the label heads having asked their roster artists to produce something different from their normal fare.

A sometimes old-school vibe infuses the first disc, with the contributors playfully creating loopy jams elevated by bold vocal treatments. A satisfying balance is struck between artfulness and physicality—the mind and body equally engaged—as one slinky tune after another takes the stage. Squarehead sets the bar ridiculously high from the get-go with “No One Has to Know,” an effervescent bit of house delirium that gets its main charge from a barrage of sliced'n'diced soul vocalisms. Trikk's techno stormer “Floorwave” derives a healthy part of its oomph from the Paul Johnson vocal (“Feel my motherfuckin' bass in your face”) that loops so determinedly throughout the cut. Other strong moments come from Friend Within's addling “The Relate,” its skeletal swing spiked by woozy vocal edits, and Justin Martin's rerub of Rachel Row's “Follow The Step,” its warm pop vibe sweetened by sparkling vocal melodies.

Kixnare introduces the second half's slightly more song-oriented tone with the trippy, downtempo sparkle of “Sun Touch,” after which Eats Everything turns heads with “Need,” a somewhat goth-flavoured incantation featuring vocals by Leah. Chmara Winter, with a little vocal help from Vera D, takes a languorous “Dive” through some tropical paradise, while dOP's remix of Lookleft & Bearight's “Miss You” (its sound oddly reminiscent of Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia) is perhaps even more alluringly serene. Just as one is about to nominate it for disc two's peak moment, along comes Maribou State & Pedestrian's late-night sparkler “Mask” with a melodic chorus to die for. Memorable also: the luscious Balearic breeze of Kamp!'s “Azure”; the electro-synth rapture of SLG's “October”; Death on the Balcony's gospel-tinged “Time To Get Up”; and the soulful vocal blaze Malenda drapes across Good Paul's “Realize.” As we near the end, a subtle wave of dubstep wobble seeps into the sparkle of (the late) Martin Dawson's “Life.”

Catz ‘n Dogz get in on the act, too, by appearing on both discs, on the first with a jacking Eats Everything makeover of “Mass Confusion” and on the second “Starlight,” whose crooning vocal by James Yuill helps turn the tune into the release's most unabashed song-styled moment. Even though the dancefloor dimension is downplayed (in some cases, absent altogether), the second half might just be the better one of the two, but they're both strong. What we've got here is the proverbial embarrassment of riches, a collection one can lose oneself in for hours and replenish oneself with repeatedly.

March 2013