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Various – If This Is House I Want My Money Back Vol 2 EP 1 review

If we were to judge the forthcoming If This Is House I Want My Money Back Zwei compilation on the basis of the four tracks on this sampler, then it’s likely that the twelve track set due out on Permanent Vacation will rank highly amongst our favourites of 2011. Set for release later this month, the second volume of the Munich’s label doctrine on the current trends in cosmopolitan house expands on the sounds of the 2009 debut set. Zwei features many of the artists that made up the well-received inaugural compilation, as well as newcomers such as Beautiful Swimmers, Soul Clap and Session Victim.

The latter are included on this sampler, adorned with simple yet memorable artwork, alongside resident permanent vacationers in the shape of the Hivern duo John Talabot and Pional as well as a collaborative effort from Uncanny Valley’s Jacob Korn and Cuthead. With his own star rising high after a series of excellent releases and remixes, and with a debut album due on Permanent Vacation later this year, it’s only natural that Joh`n Talabot should open proceedings here.

“Leave Me” acts an intriguing insight into how that album might sound and also sets the template for what unfolds across a quartet of tracks whose unifying sound is an unwillingness to plunder just the one rhythmic direction. It’s also a calling card for the Catalonian’s ease and slickness for weaving almost recognisable samples into his own intoxicating spell. Commencing with what might be a snatch of guitar from a Dolly Parton cover, the track never sits still, constantly threatening to mutate in different directions with the hypnotic titular vocal hook the one constant. The introduction of another naggingly familiar sound, this time heavily cut up horn section, dominates your thoughts right up the dramatic descent into silence.

The opening bars of Session Victim’s “Large Professor” seem quite straight and narrow in its ambitions by comparison; however as the track progresses the duo reveal new qualities – a cooing, angelic vocal hook bestowing the virtues of rainbows comes gliding through on the back of some shimmering chords which engulf the previous sparse arrangement in an all new warmth. The contribution from Dresden operates on a similar path, as “Oohja” swiftly strays from the boisterous boogie of the opening few moments, heading straight down through the insistent bassline into a sprawling percussive groover of epic proportions. Deviating between the African tinged flavours that inform the track’s title and a defiantly rippling direction, Korn & Cuthead’s contribution matches Talabot’s in their steadfast refusal to offer up a straight house jam.

Hivern’s other gem, Pional, drags us towards the depths of the house music spectrum, as “Just Passing Through” swerves on a downward spiral through the dark and dusted nether regions of beatdown, tinged with sonic paranoia, and ripe to burst into a bottom heavy sex funk with little or no notice. It’s reminiscent of how you wanted “Space Is Only Noise” from Nico Jaar’s debut album of the same name to unfold in your head, rippling with sonic sensuality as opposed to the slightly arid sensation that, in reality, informed the track.

Tony Poland