D’Marc Cantu – How Are We Doing? Review

Amidst the exciting news of a forthcoming debut album on Crème Jak as well as a subsequent album (of sorts) for M>O>S Deep, this writer feels compelled to return to D’Marc Cantu’s latest ten inch release for the latter label time and time again. There’s something so appealing to “How Are We Doing?” and its flipside counterpart, stealth like in the way they burrow into your affections and, like so much other electronic music that gets released, likely to fly below the radar of widespread appreciation.

The thick ripples of acid and booming vox that permeate the opening moments of “How Are We Doing?” betray just how deliciously beautiful and powerful the track is as it ends some five minutes later. There’s no great ingenuity to the way Cantu has arranged proceedings here – steadily building percussive detail then releasing a tidal wave of far reaching strings that rise from below and engulf all before them. But then Cantu is not trying to be smart, or reinvent the house wheel; this is simple, raw, emotive house music intended for one thing only – maintaining and shifting upwards the collective energy in a booming, darkened space – and this is achieved with aplomb.

The raw jacking sensation of “How Are We Doing?” is complemented and perhaps even bettered by the B Side “A Second Earth”. As you’d expect from such a title, the Ann Arbour based producer delves far into the utopian unknown, with sumptuous yet pensive pads arranging themselves beautifully over the crisp patter of syncopation. Far beneath unidentifiable sounds rich in minute detail coalesce, lending the track even more opulence.

Much like Cantu’s previous solo work for both Crème and M>O>S Deep, How Are We Doing? offers a richly rewarding insight into the ways the legacy of Chicago house is being adapted by contemporary American producers operating on the fringes of acceptance in their homeland, whilst dumbstep is lapped up wholesale.

Tony Poland