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Native Rush – American Studies EP review

There are numerous approaches to deep house around, but few are quite as spellbinding as that offered by Gerd’s 4 Lux Black label. Since setting up a couple of years back, the Dutch label has quietly set its stall out as a ‘must check’ imprint for those who like their music deep, subtle and oozing with unfussy emotion.

So far, the label’s clear stand out release has to be Erdbeerschnitzel’s brilliant Suave EP, but this new three-tracker from label stalwart Johan Brandes – aka Native Rush – pushes it mighty close. It’s a concept EP of sorts, with the ‘American Studies’ title referring to the various spoken word and vocal samples – all from vintage US sources – that litter the release. These are invariably well chosen and add an extra dimension – a cinematic sweep, perhaps – to Brandes deep and meaningful compositions.

This is perhaps most obvious on “Cigarbox”, which slowly bobs and weaves for eight timeless minutes. The grooves are wearily sub-aquatic, the melodies chilly and otherworldly. When the poetic, extended vocal sample kicks in, it adds another dimension to an already impressive composition. “The Good I’ve Done” changes tack, opting for a classic deep house piano jam in the best traditions of Chicago. This time, it’s a born-again Christian preacher providing the vocal interest. It’s buried deep in the mix though, so barely registers amongst the gorgeous chords and bittersweet pianos.

Then there’s “My Obsession”, a rolling, low-end heavy groove that pits well-chosen spoken word samples (“America, I refuse to give up my obsession”) against relentless organ riffs, bowel-bothering bass and a classic US house finish. It’s a fittingly American-centric ending to an EP that delights and entertains in equal measure.

Matt Anniss