VA: OFF To Amsterdam Dance Event 2013 (compiled by Andre Crom)
OFF Recordings

Though OFF Recordings' head Andre Crom obviously designed the eighteen-track compilation OFF To Amsterdam Dance Event 2013 with this year's ADE in mind (the label, in fact, celebrated the release—its first compilation, by the way—at the Sugar Factory on October 17th), there's no reason why listeners can't keep on playing its tech- and deep house tunes now that the festival's over. Selected and mixed by Crom, the collection features cuts by many OFF associates as well as contributions from artists affiliated with DFTD, Visionquest, Crosstown Rebels, Border Community, Freerange, Minus, and others. Adding to the release's appeal, well-respected figures like Jimpster, Henrik Schwarz, and Deetron contribute to the set.

Without question, it starts on a high with V/A's fabulous “No Escape,” a moody, late-night dynamo whose infectious house slink's elevated by a sultry, Rihanna-esque lead vocal. But one looks far and wide to find another track that's at the same level (Stefano Ritteri's swoon-inducing remix of Kruse & Nuernberg's “Off Course” perhaps comes closest), even if some prove worthy of recommendation for different reasons: Jimpster's “Can't Stop Loving” and Henrik Schwarz's makeover of Wareika's “Madame Scorpion” both swing mightily; a tight, synth-heavy groove and exuberantly soulful vocal by an unidentified female singer give Tough Love's “In My Way” an undeniably powerful charge; and Stefano Ritteri & Robosonic make a passionate case in support of “She Was On My Mind.” The vocals-heavy tracks are a consistently polished lot, too, with punchy grooves a primary selling point, as demonstrated by Martin Ikin's deep house jam “What You've Done,” V/A's also-strong “Nobody,” and the beatific bass rumble of Sidney Charles' remix of Darius Syrossian's “Days Without You.”

Of course, the listener's particular bias can't help but influence the impression left by the release, and this listener'll be the first to admit that his preference is for music of a more experimental and underground nature than the populist kind instantiated by some of the compilation tracks. Having said that, some tracks ooze a little too much of a crowd-pleasing vibe for the release to be recommended without qualification. A stale chant like “It's time to get down…Get down,” for example, does nothing but drag down an otherwise fine piece, in this case Rosco Sledge's “Frisson.” All things considered, one might be wiser to acquire individual tracks than the release as a whole, especially in light of the fact that the collection tips the scales at just slightly more than two hours of music.

December 2013