For Tony Lionni, 2009 seemed like the year he hit on a formula that elevated his stock to new heights. Which isn’t to say his productions have been formulaic, but what has stuck out in people’s minds has been a pronounced usage of vocal samples that bring a stunning flow to his tracks. The vocal patterns are used in such a way as to bridge the techno/house divide with a remarkable ease. Call it tech-house, house-y techno or what have you, but at the end of the day this is dance floor blue-plate special material that refuses to fit neatly in either camp.
His recent “Treat Me Right” 12″ for Freerange Records is no different, with two B-side tracks employing the vocal technique to devastating effect. “Celebration” comes on in heavy tech mode, only to bring in sizzling synth stabs and a female vocal loop that’s given a heavy filtering before unveiling a sustained minor key chord progression that puts an end to this beast of a track. “Running Away” feels lean by comparison; utilizing deep house style chords, a rounded three note bass line and loose percussion, Lionni changes it up midway thourgh as a frenetic piano line is introduced and the vocal gets stretched out into a tonal layering that starts to resemble another synth coating. The title track is where Lionni breaks from the technique and actually where this release starts to slip. The two-chord loop accentuates “Treat Me Right” with luminous warmth, but other than a heavily effected synth and an airy pad this track never hits the launch pad. Jimpster’s remix hews too close to the original, its appearance is so close as make it barely distinguishable, save punchier drum programming. With the two B-sides clearly stealing the show here, you can’t help but wonder if it’s a case of “if it ain’t, broke don’t fix it.”