When Rush Hour decides to give an artist or label the retrospective treatment, the results are rarely less than excellent. In recent years, the Amsterdam power house has treated us to must-have collections focusing on the work of the Burrell Brothers, Elbee Bad, and Virgo Four, as well as persuading Chicagoan legend Gene Hunt to share some highlights from his collection of unreleased early Windy City house gems. Their dedication to the early years of deep house, in particular, is impressive. Even so, the vast majority of their collections – and reissues, such as 12” singles from obscure British act New Age Dance and the impeccable Dream 2 Science – have focused on material from the United States and UK, at the time arguably the most developed dance music scenes around.
Here, they’ve decided to change tack a little, getting Hunee to put together a compilation focusing on the work of Japanese deep house imprint Far East Recording, and in particular the irrepressible producer Soichi Terada. For those with a passion for early ‘90s deep house records, this shouldn’t come as a surprise; Far East Recording has long been regarded by collectors and crate diggers as one of the most on-point of its time, and during their peak period tracks from the label regularly got played at all the right parties in Chicago, New Jersey, New York and London. This was partly due to Terada’s high quality threshold, of course, but mainly because the records sounded Western. Terada and his cohorts – most notably label founder Shinichiro Yokota, with whom he wrote the brilliant “Sun Shower”, a late Paradise Garage classic – took the best elements from American and European house music and gave them their own distinct twist.
The results were often magical, as Sounds From The Far East makes clear. The Far East sound was warm, rich and expertly melodious, with sun-bright motifs and enveloping pads combining to create cuts that were breezy and almost unashamedly positive. This is perhaps best demonstrated on Shinichiro Yokota’s “Shake Yours”, a delicious combination of New Jersey organs, undulating synth bass, loose drum machine rhythms and a killer disco vocal sample. It can also be heard in the skipping US garage beats, hustling riffs and MK style vocal stabs of Terada’s “Voices From Beyond”, or the same producer’s “Hohai Beats”, all 8-bit melodies and heads-down, basement-friendly grooves. Yokota’s “Do It Again”, arguably one of the better known Far East classics, sounds inspired by the Balearic house style populated in the UK by the infamous Shoom parties. The British influences are even more apparent on Terada’s “Good Morning Haze”, which while still blessed with sweet, ear-catching melodies is propelled by energetic breakbeats and surging electronics that doff a cap to both “intelligent techno” and hardcore.
Yet for all the nods to contemporary Western house styles, its Terada’s grasp of melody and composition that makes the greatest impression. He’s previously not been celebrated as much as, say, Larry Heard, but he shares the Chicago legend’s devotion to expansive musicality. The chord sequences, tactile grooves and whistling melodies of “Low Tension (Alternative Version)” – a co-production with Manabu Nagayama – could have come straight from a Mr Fingers record, while the thrillingly evocative downtempo rub “Binary Rondo” sounds like much of the material on Heard’s impeccable 1996 set Alien. That’s not to say that Terada was trying to emulate Heard, just that he should perhaps regarded in similarly high esteem. “Saturday Love Sunday”, a Cherelle and Alexander O’Neal-sampling midtempo chugger built around rush-inducing electronics, is certainly equal to anything in Heard’s peerless discography.
1. Soichi Terada – Saturday Love Sunday
2. Shinichiro Yokota – Do it Again
3. Soichi Terada – Sun Showered
4. Soichi Terada & Manabu Nagayama – Low Tension (Alternative Version)
5. Soichi Terada – Hohai Beats
6. Soichi Terada – Good Morning
7. Soichi Terada – CPM
8. Soichi Terada – Rising Sun Up
9. Shinichiro Yokota – Shake Yours
10. Soichi Terada – Voices From Beyond
11. Soichi Terada – Purple Haze (Edit)
12. Soichi Terada – Binary Rondo
13. Soichi Terada – Into Desert