Various – Amsterdam All-Stars review

If Berlin is Europe’s hub for electronic music, Amsterdam is fast becoming the continent’s second city of dance. While those in London may argue otherwise – and Bristol can’t be too far behind given the high quality house and techno currently streaming from the sleepy West Country city – the case for the quiet Dutch city is compelling.

For starters, there’s the annual electronic music beano that is the popular Amsterdam Dance Event – a week of parties, seminars and illicit hob-nobbing get-togethers that attracts punters from all corners of the globe. Then there’s the music. Amsterdam has for a long time been something of a sleeping giant, more interested in banging trance and well-dressed big room electro-house than underground flavours. Yet in recent years, Amsterdam has become a hub for producers of high quality alternative house, techno and disco – young, up-and-coming talent with more passion for 808s and 909s than Ableton, gated synth riffs and silly haircuts.

This shift has a lot to do with Rush Hour, the record shop turned label turned vinyl distribution empire. While Rotterdam-based Clone should also take a lot of credit for the Dutch revival, it’s Rush Hour that’s put Amsterdam on the map. By casting their net wide and working with producers from Detroit and Chicago as well as their home city, they’ve fast become an international force with distinctly Dutch roots.

It’s fitting, then, that their latest compilation celebrates not vintage Chicago house or forgotten Detroit techno, but the Amsterdam scene in which they’ve played such a vital role in nurturing. Amsterdam All Stars showcases these hometown heroes, and as collections go it’s pretty darned impressive. From the off, the thing that stands out the most isn’t the quality – being Rush Hour, you’d expect very few duffers – but rather the variety. There’s no one dominant style that you could lazily call “the Amsterdam sound”, just tracks from producers forging their own path based on a myriad of dancefloor influences. But then Amsterdam has always been a global hub.

Highlights are plentiful. While there are some superb cuts from the big-names – check Dexter’s afro-acid jam “Zamba”, the jazz drums and deep house pulse of Tom Trago’s “Once Upon A Time In Amsterdam” or Neworldaquarium’s Rick Wilhite-esque “Liberty Hot” – it’s actually the lesser-known lights who really impress. Chief among these is Melon, whose retro-futurist house jam “Telephones” wouldn’t be out of place on 100% Silk. That said, the slo-mo jams provided by San Proper (whose dubby dusco opener “Caught Out You” sounds like a collaboration between the Idjut Boys and Matthew Kyle) and Awanto3 (the smackhouse head-nodder “Crappy Joyride”) are almost as good.

There are, of course, plenty of other delights – see Juju & Jordash’s Sheffield bleep influenced groover “Bleached Roots”, or the tropical beats and Detroit melodies of Young Marco’s “Hoodoo” – but it would take up far too much space to list them all. Suffice to say, Rush Hour have done a brilliant job in representing Amsterdam’s blossoming house and techno scene.

Matt Anniss