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Various – If This Is House, I Want My Money Back Zwei review

Some two years on since the inaugural edition, a second serving of Permanent Vacation’s brashly titled compilation If This Is House I Want My Money Back arrives with twelve tracks that, for this scribe, act as the perfect antidote to the overly polished and far too ubiquitous shallow house endeavours of Hot Creations et al. Buoyed by a distinct lack of refund requests, the Munich label retain some of the artists from the 2009 ten track compilation whose stock has risen in the subsequent period, whilst also welcoming some new names into the fold.

When Permanent Vacation slipped out a four track vinyl teaser early last month, this reviewer was struck by the sheer class demonstrated by all on show that a desire to hear the full compilation became quite overpowering. Anyone who peruses this site on the reg will know how much we’re fans of Hivern Discs artist John Talabot, and “Leave Me” (Friendly Pattern Version) remains one of those tracks which you can quite happily return the needle/put on loop/press repeat some weeks after you first hear it. Within the context of this full compilation, it still shines through and acts as a bit of a tease for the forthcoming album on Permanent Vacation from Talabot, showcasing his talent for recycling naggingly familiar samples into an intoxicating rhythmic ride. Crucially however, there is plenty more on Zwei that impresses. Talabot’s Hivern cohort Pional opens proceedings with “Just Passing Through”, a sexed up improvement on the feel and sounds of the title track from Nico Jaar’s opinion dividing debut album.

From here a gradual rise in tempo unfolds across the compilation, with notable contributions along the way from Mano Le Tough – who continues to grace his productions with as much warmth and love as he does the titles – and Beautiful Swimmers. Their track “Excited” sees the Future Times duo step out of the DC comfort zone for the first time, delivering exactly the kind of roots of house music jam Benji and Tom P.V. asked for. A bastard concoction of Faltemeyer synth stabs and proto house pressure, the track matches the contribution from Talabot in the impressing stakes. It’s followed by energising contributions from Hunee and the Uncanny Valley duo of Jacob Korn and Cuthead collaborating under the smart Kornhead moniker. Their respective productions come from entirely different sonic angles – driving, subaqueous jack and heavily percussive Afro ripples respectively – which perfectly captures the label’s ethos behind releasing this compilation.

There are further treats in store from the likes of Soul Clap, Session Victim and the Permanent Vacation overseers themselves with an original track and an edit of Mathematics artist Contra Communem Opinionem, which in total make for a more consistent statement on the best in contemporary house music than the inaugural edition.

Tony Poland