VA: Schemata
Soiree Records International

Certain labels are as reliant and consistent as the changing seasons, and one such is Derrick Thompson's Soiree Records International. A new four-track EP arrives every four months or so from the Detroit-based label, and the material is always of superb quality, its latest no exception. Another thing that distinguishes the label's releases is that a given EP's tracks are never simply beatcentric exercises with little else to recommend them. Instead, the cuts reward on multiple levels, as grooving dance tracks, yes, but also as compositions that possess individuating character.

“Metro Beach,” Thompson's opening Drivetrain contribution, offers a tasty example of his soulful house sound, and a superb instructional lesson in demonstrating that something can be artful without sacrificing any of its dancefloor potential. Furthermore, the luscious stormer also shows Thompson's skilful way of blending genre elements associated with funk, house, and even jazz. “Searching Harmony,” a synth-heavy slice of sleek deep house from G-Prod (brothers David and Nicolas Gaugain) is good, too, and more than capable of getting bodies moving, while the frothy jam “Quadraphonic” struts with serious purpose, especially when Antwerp, Belgium-based Rubba J powers the tune with a pumping funk pulse.

But as strong as such tracks are, to these ears the EP's most enticing cut is the one from Glasgow producer Jace Syntax, “Loca Musika,” whose midtempo groove is funky enough to give it a slight edge on the competition. A breathy female voice appears to add cooing phrases to the cut, but in truth “Loca Musika” needs nothing more than its bass-powered swing and silken atmospheric design to argue on its behalf. Think of Schemata as a perfect twenty-minute cure for the winter blues.

February 2014