Illustration by Sam Weber
Un-Googleable Chicago producer Area has a take on deep house that’s svelte, dynamic, and frequently redolent of 2000s European minimal techno in its twitchy, crisp palette. Many of his tracks have a confident, forward motion (there’s a YouTube video of his “Ajumas,” remixed by Anton Zap, that entirely consists of a shot from an “L” train — although it’s a remix, it does nice job of visually summarizing his sound). “Bourbon Skies” for the much hyped Russian label ARMA, hesitantly builds on this reputation, with a pair of heavyweight remixers in tow.
The original begins with a propulsive groove: amid boxy bass, its hi-hats tick and shuffle, while a garbled vocal droops on the edges. This push diminishes as the track goes on, however, as the entry of thin, bent pads seem to quash the rhythm’s ambition, as it finishes on a near-stumble. DJ Sprinkles’ remix is typical of his catalog, at once confrontational and soothing — rolling hand-drums and a persistent “fuck all y’all” are underscored by drowsy, thickly reverbed piano and a limber bass line. If Area’s original is a tense set-up track, the remix relaxes it a bit, but a searching sensibility remains. Vakula, meanwhile, smothers the kickdrum and bass line as chirpy percussion darts from side to side, before an interplay between smooth chords and acidic organ zaps emerges. The effect is a simultaneous sputter and glide.