Like many producers of house and techno, Alessandro Pasini has been chugging away on the margins, without fanfare or fuss, for the best part of a decade. In that time, he’s established a label, 12 Records, delivered a clutch of enjoyable albums that touch on a variety of deep house flavours, and maintained a steady stream of solid singles under the semi-familiar Deep88 alias.
Many of these releases could be described as “much played” – certainly by those with an ear for entertaining, melodious and groovy deep house, at the very least – but were nevertheless overlooked by those in the music media. Rightly or wrongly, music journalists – this writer included – tend to gravitate towards releases that either do things differently, represent an emerging sound or scene, or take risks in their pursuit of an experimental agenda. If you’re striving to find the next big thing, worthy concept or hyped artist, there are plenty of perfectly good releases – hell, even some mind-blowing ones – that will pass you by.
Pasini’s latest full-length, The Black Album, is this kind of release. It’s a pretty understated affair, for starters – think functional track titles, fuss-free cover artwork – and it doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t. Pasini has a knack for making tuneful, atmospheric and occasionally deliciously loved up deep house, often with vintage analogue equipment. On The Black Album, he plays to these strengths, proudly displaying his influences – classic Chicago jack tracks, Bobby Konders, Pal Joey, DFC-era Italian dream house, late-‘80s New Jersey workouts, the spacey atmospherics of Detroit techno, and so on. This delivers an album worth of tracks that work just as well at home, as they do over a tasty club sound system. Put simply, it’s a man playing to his strengths, serving up the aural equivalent of a big hug from a loved-up random.
That’s not to say that there aren’t notable highlights, of course. Those with long memories and/or an extensive knowledge of vintage house will find plenty of sly nods to records, artists and labels of old. Closer “Sunday Morning”, previously released on Semtek’s fine Don’t Be Afraid imprint, offers the perfect balance between undulating, acid house bass, shuffling drum machine rhythms and fluttering, Nu Groove style synth flute melodies, while “SP1200” seemingly joins the dots between raging, Phuture-style acid, and Pepe Bradock’s peerless “Deep Burnt”.
“Face It” could be a long-lost Fingers Inc. jam after a leisurely afternoon in the sun, while the deliciously Balearic “Rotation” – all Sueno Latino style whispered vocals, dreamy pads, twittering synthesizer melodies and pleasingly tactile chords – feels like a smartened up take on the greatest early ‘90s Italian deep house. Then there’s “Chord Prog” and “Me Myself And An MPC”, a pair of tracks that are so loosely blissful and tactile that you can’t help but love them.
A1. Harmony (intro)
B1. Face It
B2. SP1200 Jam
C2. Chord Prog
D1. Me Myself & An MPC
D2. Sunday Morning