Various Artists, Detroit Beatdown Vol. 2 The Final EP

[Third Ear Recordings]

London’s Third Ear Recordings has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Detroit house producers dating back to the early aughts. The label has worked with everyone from K-Hand to Kyle Hall, but is most known for highlighting the Detroit Beatdown sound. Pioneered by the trio of Norm Talley, Mike Clark, and Delano Smith, it can best be described as emphasizing deep, heavy grooves, often at slower tempos. Third Ear anthologized the Beatdown sound on the 2002 triple LP Detroit Beatdown Vol. 1 and subsequent EPs of original and remixed material, yielding classics like Theo Parrish’s “Falling Up” and exposing many Detroit producers previously unknown outside the U.S. The series has been dormant since 2008 but springs back into action one last time for Detroit Beatdown Vol. 2 The Final EP.

Rick Wade, “Cloud Envy”

“You Know How I Feel” by Mike “Agent-X” Clark starts out promisingly with a blunt but agile bass line sashaying though swishing hi-hats and chilled Rhodes chords. Early on, though, a synth lead’s dramatic, theremin-like trembling creates a cheesy atmosphere from which the tune never recovers. Rick Wade’s “Cloud Envy” fairs much better by letting soft, simple chord progressions float over two tightly interlocking percussion patterns that beg for fancy footwork. DJ T-1000 climbs down from his usually blistering techno heights for the subdued house of “The Congnoscenti.” With just a few muddy chords cycling around finely modulated drum programming and punctuated by unnecessary, old-timey vocals declaring, “This is music,” it won’t blow anyone’s socks off but is useful enough to get some air time.

Scott Ferguson, “A Groove”

Scott Ferguson closes the EP in fine fashion with the thick and deliberate “A Groove.” A wall of humming synths provides a sultry backdrop for various hand percussion patterns and the occasional splash of delayed sax riffs and electric piano leads. While I find it more useful when notched up a few BPMs, the track evokes sweaty summer sessions no matter when it’s played. One wonders why this is the last of the Detroit Beatdown series, especially arriving six years after the previous entry. Recent Third Ear releases by MGUN and K-Hand suggest the Detroit connection remains strong. Perhaps label owner Guy McCreery feels his mission of showcasing Detroit’s once undiscovered house side is now complete. Whatever the case, The Final EP is a good if not great bookend to this series.

LdyMacca  on May 15, 2014 at 3:38 AM

lovely track from ferguson


Little White Earbuds April Charts 2014 – Little White Earbuds  on May 2, 2014 at 10:30 AM

[…] (Roman Flügel Remix) [Pampa Records] (buy) 07. DVS1, “S.O.S.” [HUSH] (buy) 08. Rick Wade, “Cloud Envy” [Third Ear Recordings] (buy) 09. Todd Terje, “Oh Joy” [Olsen] (buy) 10. The Central […]

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