For a scene that centres on invoking the musical nuances and approaches of the late 80s, the new wave of Chicago-inspired producers have struggled to deliver on that other great staple from that era, the artist album. Steffi’s recent album for Ostgut was an exception to this trend, as was Prosumer’s long player on the same label a few years previously. In the rush to cherry pick the raw shuffling kettle drums and crashing snares as well as the unmistakable, gurgling sound of the 303, few have remembered that the 1980s was also a period of artists and artistry, with only the inlays of Crème Jak recalling a time when a premium was put on visual accompaniment to the music. This however would be a side issue were there a series of great modern house music albums, but the fact is that much of the music is as faceless as its presentation. In the instance of Dublin-based Italian producer Lerosa’s Amanatto album, the artwork is a side issue because he joins that small elite of modern house producers who have mastered the album format.
Favouring a deeper take on Chicago than some of his jack-fixated peers, the album is more influenced by Larry Heard and Virgo than Adonis or Ron Hardy. This is audible on the pulsing rhythms and breathy vocals of “In My Mind” and the more introspective but none less sublime “You Said Forever”. There are other familiar echoes on Amanatto: the tumbling break beats and dreamy chords of “Constant” is reminiscent of Jamie Read’s LHAS project – itself a tribute to Heard – while “Substitute” nudges closer to the ambient techno meets deep house of Chris Gray’s 90s work. “Blind Alley” sees Lerosa centre this understated techno sound on cascading filters, while “Reflections” is a slow-burning, bass-heavy workout. Unlike his peers, Lerosa manages to prod and push classic house into many directions, and if he doesn’t enjoy crossover success with the infectious vocals of “Ordinary People”, then maybe the Chicago revival is destined to remain the preserve of limited edition vinyl releases.