Norm Talley, The Journey

[Third Ear Recordings]

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Norm Talley, along with “Beatdown Brothers” Delano Smith and Mike “Agent X” Clark, has been waiting a while for the world to catch up with him. Inspired and mentored by legendary Detroit disco DJ Ken Collier, Talley and his friends started spinning in the mid-80s, but somehow remained unknown outside the Motor City until the early 00s, when London-based label Third Ear Recordings released a compilation of their productions under the iconic title Detroit Beatdown (Volume One). Of course the remix package that followed spawned the massive Carl Craig remix of Theo Parrish’s “Falling Up,” but it also resulted in a Wax Poetics feature, appearances at Fabric, and influential European DJs such as Efdemin repping the warmer, slower Beatdown approach to house music.

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Indeed, it appears to be the patronage of such taste makers that we have to thank for the reappearance of “The Journey.” So much was the original record (released on the “Two Tone EP” on the tiny Nouveau Riche Entertainment in 1999) in demand that copies were exchanging for hundreds of euros, and Talley himself had to borrow a copy when he played a gig in Berlin. “The Journey” is no relation to the Scott Grooves’ classic of the same name, but shares a similarly epic and emotional dance floor ethos. Pure, driving house music but at disco tempo, the track is built of the simplest of elements, a rising string sample that is only stopped from floating off beyond the clouds by an earthy kick drum. The flip side of the dinky 10″ is the unreleased “In Yo Soul.” Minor keys and an abrasively cut up sample of a voice intoning the title are licked into shape by sharp snares and a rolling, almost tribal beat. Less peak hour than its partner, it nonetheless further underlines Talley’s considerable production chops. Following Delano Smith’s brilliant Sunrise EP, Third Ear Recordings once again deserves a pat on the back for bringing Detroit’s secret weapons to wider recognition.

tom/pipecock  on June 25, 2009 at 8:30 AM

“the journey” is my jam, it was on the only old Norm Talley record i don’t have. all the others are dope too, i know the Track Mode one has been pretty much mercilessly crushed here in pittsburgh….

Andrey  on June 29, 2009 at 4:44 AM

Ah nice – worked well on your Efdemin podcast

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