Not what you would expect, but better than you can imagine. Breach (aka Ben Westbeech) had one of the biggest records of the summer with “Jack,” a simple yet substantial classic house track with one line of repeated vocal that was accompanied by a viral hairy video. For “We Had It All,” he moves from channeling Larry Heard to evoking classic Rollo. Dig up “Let This Be a Prayer” by Rollo Goes Spiritual with Pauline Taylor for an idea of where this is descended from. How great it is for there to be a return to vocal house with a real song – mournful, yet uplifting – as soulful singer Andreya Triana is serving Sandy B inspired by Moby’s Southern gospel phase. This is classy underground vocal house which is very well-produced and modern-feeling, with classic uplifting vibes for the old school house heads out there. How amazing would it be to be at a festival or in a big room club and the DJ dropped from hard electro or stadium and subtly brought in a quality vocal house record like this?
There is a certain big room electro sound that has been overly-prominent lately. A sound or sample becomes de rigueur and suddenly every track on the beatport 100 seems to be using it (see Daleri’s “Mashleg” for an extreme example). What sets a producer apart is a new sound, vibe, or influence which brings a fresh taste to their track. South American duo HIIO have been on a rampage this year with a slew of club tracks featuring quality vocalists and elements of soul and gospel for a different take on big room electro. For their new track “Rock and Roll,” they’ve teamed with rising producer John Dish and added an element of ’90s dance music that has yet to be explored in the current flashback meme – euphoric sounds a la Rollo/Faithless. If you listen closely to the synth line you will hear the big room sounds inspired by the early epic classics like “Insomina” and “Salva Mea.” What this has to do with the sampled vocal, I am not sure – but the contrast makes “Rock and Roll” stand out from the majority of tracks being churned out by the pack of EDM producers on an hourly basis.
If any producer could be considered the grandfather of stadium house, it would be Rollo Armstrong. Known for epic big room production as part of the remix/production team Rollo and Sister Bliss as well as a founding member of electronic supergroup Faithless, his experimentation with religious keyboards and epic sounds are the clear precursor to the current stadium house sound. As with the recent update of hard house classic “Joy Energizer,” it seems the right time to start reworking the Rollo classics. British DJ/producer dusts off the club/UK QAF classic “Hold That Sucker Down” by OT Quartet (the production team of Rollo and Rob Dougan) and wisely stays true to the original instrumentation, adding some modern electro sounds. Close your eyes and it’s 1994 again with those classic Rollo keyboards lifting you to euphoric heights. While it is quite straightforward, when the original is so masterful – moving away or distorting it would ruin the impact. The only minor quibble is the decision to not include the original version or at least do a separate vocal version, yet the “Hold That Sucker Down” track is so iconic and recognizable maybe the vocals aren’t so necessary (something the original’s vocal versions proved as well). This is one of those WTF tracks that instantly catches a dancer’s attention – they will either recognize it or hold up their phone to shazam it.