Art by Hort
House and politics, and indeed music in general, are a funny mix. For every Bob Dylan you have a Bono, and for every Big Strick you have a Sascha Dive. We’ll leave Dive’s ill-advised Black Panther references for now, but the cousin of Omar-S’ “A Walk Down Linwood” powerfully proved politics in house doesn’t end with Moodymann or MLK speeches laid over “Can You Feel It?”. All this is by way of introduction to the A2 on I.F.M.’s Back In The Days EP.
The first reaction on hearing “September 11” is probably shock. Music that has referenced the events of 9/11 such as William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops or Theo Parrish’s “Moments Of Instant Insanity” understandably has a mournful or at least abstract tone, so to hear such a direct, hopeful and indeed almost joyful, Chez Damier-influenced house track behind various voices (including Dubya and Obama) intoning the titular phrase with a variety of emphasis, is unnerving to say the least. On the most recent Odd Machine release, the Roger Linn interview sampled posits that with the repetitiveness of the beat produced by, for example, a Linn 9000/LM2, “your mind begins to tune out the drum machine itself.” Does the same cognitive trick happen here? Does the constant repetition of the controversial phrase mean the listener stops “hearing” it, rendering it meaningless? The audience as ever can decide, but it’s certainly a provocative gambit and far more thought-provoking than the next “deep house” record with a “canyadiggit” sample. The pay-off of “September 11” is the communal “together!” chant; this is a sincere tribute and leaves no doubt as to the producers’ intentions.
“September 11” might grab most of the headlines, but elsewhere on Back In The Days there is plenty else to interest and indeed challenge the discerning listener. The title of the EP drops more than a hint to Marcello Napoletano and Francesco Schito’s preferred era of house music, and indeed all four tracks are indebted to a mid-90’s sound that is increasingly gaining currency. “Miles” in particular appears at first blush to be belle of the ball at the Nu Groove resurgence party, all chattering voices and ravey stabs. However, it maintains the forward looking agenda of that particular label, and is far too obstinate to be written off as mere pastiche. An incongruous concert piano appears halfway through, and only the streetwise “yo!” and clattering drums stops this particular debutante falling over at her own bash. An engrossing track, it counts amongst the finest Uzuri have released. “TOM” and “Raw Vibe” are similarly percussive, haunted house workouts with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Back In The Days is far from the nostalgia fest implied by its title; a deeply stimulating record, both in content and aesthetic, it moves on while paying respects to the past.