The spiritual brainchild of Lerato Khathi, Uzuri is usually associated with emitting a more ethereal breed of house. But with From Chicago, Turin, Amsterdam and Dublin with Love, the label offers up a somewhat tougher offspring in a collaborative love letter to countries in which its artists reside. Although a raw essence of Uzuri has always been a mainstay of the imprint’s sound, the four tracks here share a more obvious raggedness than much of the label’s previous output.
With “Take 1,” K Soul and Muteoscillator commence with a classically rugged kick and carefully modulated acid loop, at first giving the impression it’s no nonsense warehouse fodder. But while continually tweaking the 303 to squelch and squeal, the pair slide in some eerie pads that provide unexpected atmosphere. One wonders, though, if the track would’ve been better off if the original acid line was allowed to work its magic without so much knob twiddling. On “Resolution M,” Chicago Skyway takes a break from the acidic side of house found on his Uzuri-released Wolfgang Hair EP and switches the vibe towards a jazzier tip. The dominant minor chords play an almost vocal role by crooning their way throughout the brief four minutes, while the varying tone of the toms add a complementary spring. Juju & Jordash prove once again why they’ve been ones to watch out for by completely wiping the slate clean.
The Amsterdam-based duo share an unconventional approach to making dance music, almost coming off like prog rockers writing house, but thankfully their tracks always tend to favor playfulness over pretention. Steering themselves away from the dreamlike abundance of their previous efforts, “Killing Raul with Acid” is off-kilter and suggests an almost Gonzo-inspired drug frenzy of dueling synth lines, pounding drum kit percussion, and some manic screams. It’s a brave and welcome addition to their catalog. The record draws to a close with Slowburn’s “Meteor,” a moody number meant to help wind down the crowd after peak time. The aquatic, Rhodes-like flutters echo the similar brooding element of Mike Denhert, but “Meteor” is much subtler and disjointed with percussion patterns that seem to have minds of their own. It’s an interesting if unusual track from the largely unknown producer. Where Uzuri could have put itself in danger of being pigeonholed with a certain sound, instead it’s turned the tables with From Chicago, Turin, Amsterdam and Dublin with Love and showcased its sonic diversity to the larger audience it’s accrued.