Thanks to a slew of quality releases on respected labels like Tirk, Hometaping, Autodiscothèque and Undertones, Nottingham based producer Danny Berman, aka Red Rack Em aka Hot Coins, is one of the most respected figures in UK underground house circles. Even the iconic broadcaster and beard stroker Gilles Peterson was moved to whisper delicately that Berman “can’t put a foot wrong”. Berman has taken the logical step to maintain this onward momentum with the foundation of his own imprint, Bergerac, named in homage to secret deep house lover John Nettles (watch out too for Berman’s vinyl only imprint Nettles). Bergerac launches with The Early Years, a sort of retrospective that bridges the gap between Berman’s past and future with 13 tracks of Red Rack’ Em productions, mostly vinyl only releases and a clutch of new tracks.
Commencing with the silky soulful squelch of “Dance Valet”, one of his earliest productions, the sound here veers between genres and tempos with a real ease and fully showcases Berman’s production expertise. Mid tempo heavily phased chuggers like “You Can’t Pray For Your Soul” sit next to the crisp deep house movements of “How We Do” and head nodding jazz leaners such as “Christmas Day”. Whilst this variety is one of the album’s strengths, Berman really excels when the tempo is upped, like on the ripe beatdown of “All I Ever Wanted” with a heavy bumping rhythm underpinned by burnt stabs, soaring chord patterns and a low bass rumble. Indeed it’s one of the new tracks that impresses the most and offers an intriguing insight into how the Red Rack’ Em sound will progress. What “Housey” lacks in track titling imagination, it more than makes up in sonic arrangement, with a definite Moodymann vibe running through the seven minutes. Soulful female vocals sit deep beneath an array of squelching synth melodies and intermittent piano flourishes that play out over a back drop of ever reaching chords, stuttering kicks and warm gloopy bass.