Red Rack’em, Exhalt/Underground


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It isn’t often a house track is deserving of being described as “romantic,” but that’s just what came to mind after hearing a track from Red Rack’em aka Danny Berman’s last release, “In Love Again.” Disregarding the obvious connotation of its title, the track’s stunning string swells may not have been the most original but they created an intimacy and elegance not often heard in the deep house field. If you’ve heard his DJ sets, though, you know that his tastes extend to several other genres, an influence that has found its way into his productions, such as the impressive takes on modern disco under his Hot Coins moniker. On his first release for London-based Shift, Berman shows a deft hand at keeping us guessing on what actually qualifies as deep house these days.

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For “Underground” Berman works with a fairly standard sound palette but does so exceptionally well. The reverbed hi-hats seem to jump out of the speakers, the bass kick resonates with warmth, and the omni-present synth stabs are modulated and delayed with just enough unexpectedness. But it’s the new elements brought in that drive depth within the track, as a series of soulful chords are introduced and a percussive vibe-like synth melody develops, before ending in a fluttery synth motif that has an almost lullaby quality. “Exhalt” is marked most heavily by two seemingly incongruous traits: graceful, flowing pads and staccato acid flourishes. One would seem to give it luminosity and the other a down and dirty flavor, but they work together so well that they carry the track to an otherworldly location. Berman uses a nice set of loose and organic, dub-inflected percussion, skimming synth runs and a solid bass line, but it’s the interplay between the glowing pads and the buzzing 303 arpeggios that lend “Exhalt” a special quality. If this is house I don’t want my money back.


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