Enduring house icons The Freemasons preview their forthcoming Shakedown 3 album with four tracks that show the depth of their sound. Getting the initial buzz is their cover of the 2006 progressive classic “Discopolis” by Lifelike and Kris Menace. The respectful update keeps all of the instrumentation in place, ups the tempo, and gives it that somber yet uplifting house feel which makes it a Freemasons track, in the vein of their hit “Uninvited” cover a few years back. Keeping the somber tone is their track as side project Pegasus “In the Blue.” The retro, darker house vibe follows the template of their Lamb cover “Gorecki,” with a touch more of the Nu-House vibe. On first listen, you might think it is Roisin Murphy on the vocals, but it is actually singer/songwriter Emma Rohan (an Angelina Jolie lookalike who has written for UK pop stars Joe McElderry and Boyzone). Switching from progressive to more hands in the air vocal house, the Freemasons duo bring “Nothing to Lose” and “True Love Survivor.” “Nothing to Lose” is commercial and credible at the same time, with pristine production emphasizing both Hi-NRG house tracks and the soulful vocals of Andrea Martin (best known for the song “Share the Love,” which was sampled by Tomcraft in his track “Loneliness”). Closing out the set is “True Love Survivor,” which melds house, disco, and progressive for a commercial track that is both recognizable and original at the same time. Discovered at an Apple store, singer/songwriter Hana has a voice that encompasses both the ethereal prettiness of a trance-topliner with the power of a soul singer. The lyrics are quite strong as well and could easily be redone as a ballad for unplugged performances. As the first taste of Shakedown 3, these four tracks will whet your appetite for what will no doubt be one of the albums of the year.
One of the many reasons why I love the Freemasons is that they remind me of the M People (my all time favorite house group) with the way they produce original dance music that sounds and feels instantly familiar. Both are known for their disco and happy house based productions and remixes with part of the fun being trying to play trainspotter. Recent tracks by the FM duo have delved into harder electro and stadium while the new “U Drive Me Crazy” comes with two distinct flavors – an original version reimagining 80s dance pop and the Francais version which inspired by vintage Daft Punk yet filtered through their clean and uplifting lens. The main vocal lines are repeated, incessantly a la “So Much Love To Give,” to the point that Joel Edwards vocal performance becomes another essential sample/instrument in the production. After just one listen, it becomes a powerful ear worm that I am looking forward to subjecting my dance floor to. I rarely mention lyric videos because well there usually isn’t much to say but this one is visually delightful with its repetition to the point of becoming hypnotic. If you find yourself going crazy for Joel’s voice, do yourself a favor and track down the eponymous track by Deepest Blue.