Helge Sten

Juhani Aaltonen
Absent Without Leave
Esteban Adame
The Alvaret Ensemble
Gordon Ashworth
Atiq & EnK
Brooklyn Rider
Causa Sui
Laura Cetilia
Henrik Otto Donner
Edit Select
Farben & James DIN A4
The Green Kingdom
Alexander Hawkins
Chester Hawkins
Hydras Dream
Marsen Jules
Dominic Lash Quartet
David T. Little
Lunatik Sound System
Macdonald & Crispell
Emilia Mårtensson
Stephan Meidell
Minibus Pimps
Quentin Sirjacq
Tokyo Isolation Chamber
Christina Vantzou

Compilations / Mixes
7 Years Of Outcross
15 Shades of White
Anomalie 003 Series
The Boogie Volume 4
Ladies & Gentlemen

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Blackstone Rngrs
Baptiste & Pierre Colleu
L'estasi Dell'oro
William Ryan Fritch
Mutated Forms
Theodore + Wurst

VA: Best of Ladies & Gentlemen
Ladies & Gentlemen

If the underground house material featured on this 101-minute collaboration is representative of the label's output, Ladies & Gentlemen, the Berlin-based imprint run by Michael Vater (aka Phonique), is clearly firing on all cylinders after seven years of operation. Vater brings a more-than-experienced hand to his label curating. He's been a part of the Berlin scene since the mid-‘90s, initially as a party organizer, then DJ, and eventually as a producer who's issued material on labels such as Komfort Musik, Crosstown Rebels, Poker Flat, and Dessous. The man's obviously got an ear for talent, as the collection maintains a solid quality level from start to finish.

The collection opens on a high with Bruno Be's “Lovesick,” a splendidly sexy house jam whose serene melodies, vocal treatments, and lightly swinging groove are as potent as earworms can be. Gorje Hewek & Izhevski perpetuate the opener's entrancing vibe with a sparkling jewel of their own, “After Rest,” after which Manuel Tur & Dplay jumpstart the proceedings with a breezy remix of Kiloo & Phonique's “The Passion.” Regular Vater collaborator Alex Krüger is represented by a 2010 Tigerskin track, the dizzyingly strings-kissed “Loop Back in Time,” whose jubilant tone is emblematic of the compilation, while Phonique teams up with Sharam Jey for the aptly titled “Burning.” Lithe grooves and chunky house chords course repeatedly throughout the fourteen cuts, and the mood is consistently high-spirited.

Best of Ladies & Gentlemen features deep club cuts that at times catch the listener by surprise. Vincenzo's “Return of Sha,” for example, might start off rather unassumingly, but as the track develops it grows into a heavy, synth-powered anthem. Some tracks stand out as especially memorable, among them: Fabricio Peçanha's “Forgive Me,” which, in its Two Men Army remix, presents an irresistibly swinging eight minutes of deep house-styled vivacity; Stark D's “Souljahs,” an hypnotic cut whose dramatic spoken word content (“Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness…”) is repeatedly punctuated by the title utterance; and Dirty Doering & Sascha Cawa's “Lumy,” which morphs from a slow-mo funk beginning into a sashaying, spring-loaded dynamo. One guesses that Vater's goal is for Best of Ladies & Gentlemen to be experienced as a party-ready set of quality club tracks, and, if the presumption is correct, it's a goal handily met by the release.

April 2014