House Of House, Rushing to Paradise

[Whatever We Want Records]

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When you describe a track as “deep house,” what are you referring to? Presently the most common answer is a specific sound, one characterized by Rhodes (minor) chord stabs, mellow, hand-drummed grooves, and flecks of diva vocals or preacher a cappellas. The description has some merit, especially when applied to contemporary “deep house,” but I’ve always felt it leaves out a crucial aspect: depth. When music has depth — a wealth of elements and multiple layers of complexity — there’s so much more to hold dear, to relate to, to appreciate. It takes time to fully appreciate deep music’s density and the interplay between its range of sounds, as well as its impact from a big picture perspective. Depth alone is not enough to make music enjoyable or of high quality, but a deftly executed, bountiful song stands out widely from the pack. Listening to “Rushing to Paradise,” the debut single from Brooklyn’s House Of House, I get the sense its creators (Olivier Spencer of Still Going/Manthraxx and Saheer Umar) share my passion for depth in deep house.

Take for example their 13-minute long opus, “Rushing to Paradise (Walkin’ These Streets).” Seeds of tension are sown from the onset in a fine synthy mist that swells into robust, sawing waves. Roving piano leads drizzle down like silvery teardrops, leading the way into a thicket of crowd noise samples, tinny pings, rolling hand percussion and tambourine shakes, each in different fidelities, simultaneously pushing forward and reaching back into the past. The song takes an anthemic turn as the piano playing becomes bluesy (and closely reminiscent of Celestial Choir’s “Stand On the Word”), and at last Umar’s expressive, lamenting vocals pour forth. “Walking these streets so long / ‘Cause I need somebody else,” he cries, having “treated my love so wrong.” And yet he remains resilient, assuring listeners and himself, “I’m gonna be alright.” His striking performance evokes nostalgia for the impassioned lyrics of yesteryear without recycling the past. It’s also surprisingly short-lived; a move which maintains the emotional impact that might have otherwise been diluted in subsequent repetitions. “Rushing” charges to a close on the back of children’s soaring vocals, its elements peeling away as carefully as they were applied. Like a life experience, a song this thoroughly composed, this filled with sound and sentiment, leaves an indelible mark in listeners’ memories.

The flipside, “The Rough Half (Don’t Stop),” finds House Of House’s songcraft and propensity for depth extending into more pop-oriented sounds and structures. The pair again gradually introduce instruments, but allow the payoff to arrive much sooner and sweeter than on the epic A-side. Its swaying bass notes, tumbling toms and ramshackle piano chords set a heavier tempo while reverberating guitar licks lighten the mood. Umar’s treated pipes burst onto the scene alongside effervescent synth melodies, urging dancers and DJs, “Don’t stop the pressure / release the pleasure.” Opting for a bridge – which hangs on one note and hissing vocals – rather than a breakdown, HoH allow the tension to well back up. And when the floodgates reopen, a fuzzy and frenetic guitar solo rides the ensuing wave to the end – one of the few times in recent memory a guitar solo has added so much to a dance track. As with the whole of the A-side, it’s indicative of Spencer and Umar’s exacting discretion in choosing quantities and types of sounds, coupled with a remarkable sense of pacing. In other producers’ hands, tunes this thick and thorough could be a mess; in theirs, “Rushing to Paradise” is a stunning, soulful exploration of what it means to make deep house music in 2009.

kartsaklis  on March 11, 2009 at 10:12 PM

i can’t write/say/think anything about this without lapsing into hyperbole. well done, steve!

Nightowl  on March 12, 2009 at 2:01 AM

one of the most emotive tunes i heard this year…

opus is a perfect term to describe the song’s atmposphere. but, nevertheless, it will never become what celestial choir’s “stand on the word” is.

hanskapade  on March 12, 2009 at 3:01 AM

wow this is truly fantastic, one of the best I’ve heard on here! I’d get up and dance but I’m in the office!!

Adamm  on March 12, 2009 at 6:13 AM

I saw someone metioned this on a message board and totally looked over it, big mistake. This is beautiful.

Joe H  on March 12, 2009 at 7:41 AM

sublime! already contender for track of the year? i think so.brilliant review steve.

dillinjah  on March 15, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Yeah, that one epitomizes deep house for sure. Great track…

Greg Swindle  on March 17, 2009 at 7:00 PM

My plate of this gorgeous music is in the mail….

Frederico Farina  on March 23, 2009 at 3:46 PM

LOVE this song. Would anyone know where I can buy this as a MP3? Did not find it at ITunes, nor Amazon.
Most appreciated, Frederico

littlewhiteearbuds  on March 23, 2009 at 4:17 PM

I doubt this will ever come out on mp3. Whatever We Want Records is vinyl only.

20thebear  on March 25, 2009 at 9:33 PM

just awesome. can’t wait for someone in a club to have the balls to play the entire record.

Kyle  on March 26, 2009 at 4:51 PM

A blog that’s as beautifully written as the music it’s reviewing.

littlewhiteearbuds  on March 26, 2009 at 4:52 PM


jenny g  on April 6, 2009 at 3:01 PM

yo! They are totally spinning at a loft party in Brooklyn this weekend. hollerrrrr

todd  on February 10, 2010 at 9:06 PM

essential record. pressing with harvey mix has major issues on the original (no bass). anyone know of a repress?

Lehlohonolo  on February 24, 2010 at 2:22 AM

WoW!!! Now this is what I call Real Deep House!!!


krc  on August 2, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Somehow missed this the first time around, but I’d like to echo what has already been said (18 months later): what a great review for a tremendous track. It’s hard to put my finger on what it is about “deep house” that gets me, without turning sentimental. On the other hand, you have to embrace the excess — the “silvery teardrops” and the “down on my knees / begging you please” rhyme — or you can’t love the music on its own terms. This review pulls it off. Well done.


Little White Earbuds » Little White Earbuds March Charts  on April 3, 2009 at 10:42 AM

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