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Vakula – Picture Of You review

We’ve extolled the virtues of on-fire Ukrainian producer Vakula  so many times in recent months that quite frankly it’s becoming a little embarrassing. Yet it seems that as soon as the dust settles from one stellar release, another hits the shelves more or less immediately. Indeed ever since that Firecracker 10″ arrived in 2010, it’s been a constant stream of quality, with subsequent releases on Ethereal Sound, 3rd Strike, Archipel and, now, Dekmantel. The small Dutch label is credited by no less authority than Tom Trago with reinvigorating the Amsterdam house scene with its Detroit-leaning parties in the mid 2000s. A slow but steady release schedule has so far brought material from Amsterdam-based artists Juju & Jordash and San Proper, with techno ledge Rob Hood commissioned to remix a single from the latter’s debut album.

Vakula’s debut for the imprint opens with “Picture Of You”, which unfurls majestically from a melodic deep house jaunt with aquatic melodies and cosy pads to a hands-up piano driven stomper – just wait for those stuttering keys to come in towards the end! “Acid Release” serves as the perfect foil to the grandiose opening salvo, doing exactly what it says on the tin with a dusty acidic thump ridden throughout, the result being something that would fit snugly into the dirtier corners of the Dance Mania back cat. Flip over for the ambiguously titled “Music”, which features a female vocal turn that sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a well, along with a dense bassline and twangy, metallic hats. “Smooth Sketch” features some off kilter Theo style mindfuck weirdness with marching hats and meandering melodies, before “Johnny” picks up where “Music” left off with another memorable vocal, this time nourished by jazzy keys and superbly crafted chords.

Aaron Coultate