COEO - Habibi EP (House of Disco, 2020)



The dynamic duo continue on their quest for vibe perfection with this absolute pearl of a new release, that celebrates the past and the present in equal measure.


For some, it's quite easy to evoke scenery through their music. Some grace our minds with the dance through effortless grooves, whilst a select few have the uncanny ability to do both. Like a sync of all the feels of the club and the rich evocative imagery, dance music has a wonderful ability to transport us to many an imagined environment, purely down to its referencing ability. It's a particular theme that many contemporary producers utilise in order to reconnect with the roots but also to evoke these past memories and feelings. Some people who lived through it originally fondly reminisce about their past dances, the mood and tone recreated perfectly through a dedicated passion for the way in which dance music impacted upon people in the past. Its through the sounds we embrace within these tunes, where we as part of the contemporary scene can look back with fondness too, having not lived through it originally but can now get an inkling for what it felt like to be surrounded by sounds of the 90s and beyond. Nostalgia is a strong characteristic of all facets of electronica currently, a fascination that runs deep now due to the internet and research being able to be carried out remotely, and whilst it has perhaps permeated through a bit too much in the wrong ways with some new tunes, there are those who really concern themselves with complete immersion. Not ones to pick up one feature for a cheap ploy, nah these producers dedicate themselves to these sounds, a fundamental relationship that begins with the breaking down then rebuilding of these sounds in their own image. The building blocks of the past constructed into towering pillars of todays scene, evoking memories, channelling the past into the future, building ethereal bonds and connections to the dances of yesterday.


If characterful and dedicated dance music is what you yearn for in life, if you enjoy the substance filled cuts that dig just that little bit deeper, then COEO is definitely the production team after your own heart. The duo, consisting of Andreas Hopfl and Florian Vietz, have been tugging at heartstrings around the world since their debut in 2012, with their signature cocktail of deep hue 90s tinged house and hugely infectious edit work. Moving between the lines with each release, COEO always serve up some kind of emotional and body work out with each record, in such a way that continues to establish connections to their music but also to the passions behind it all. The continual references to 90s house, jazz house, and of course their excellent choices for tunes to edit, has lead to the duo being held as pre-eminent figures within the world of sunny side up music. The boundless joy that flows from each track remains always very high, washing over dancers for the past near decade at parties and in living rooms around the world. Its a refreshing take on past glories that make their music so wonderful, where the blends between established characteristics is fused with the sensibilities of all that is good with contemporary house and the edit scene. The heart within the music however is perhaps the most potent quality, its sincerity and emotive integrity bound to us in more ways than we can imagine. Its a relationship that has developed over time, with select cuts from a discography filled with audial pleasures including the bold and bubbly 'Do It' EP from 2014; the night horizon bound 'Don't Need You' record from the same year; the organic and enriching 'Closer' EP from 2015; the absolutely sublimeeeee 'Tonic Edits Vol. 5' record from 2017; the equally impressive 'Flesh World' EP from the same year; and the big one, the EP that last year made everyone turn their heads in general wonderment, the appropriately titled 'COEO Edits record. Its wonderful to see the duo keep the ball rolling through a wide spectrum of sounds, where they began with the enveloping tendencies of deep house and into the realms of stupendous edits, the progressions between the two feel so natural. The vibe, the feels remain the same, just repackaged and served up to us to devour and relish for ages to come.


So, in many ways it seems fitting that the duo embark on their latest release with a infused continuation of their collective efforts so far. The 'Habibi' EP encapsulates every notion of sound and tone the group have been achieving so far, but channels it through a new interpretation of their ideals for dance music. The record takes a more progressive route, drawing inspiration more so from the proto house and Italo sides of things, to give over something both and invigorating but at the same time, distinctly COEO. Same ingredients, but slightly different balances and ratios. Its quite the trip. So lets take a ride!


The track begins off with the dub version of the title track, and here we see the new sound come into play. The drumming patterns are vigorous and strike right through the middle, beginning with the kick and congas getting us started. The second wave introduces the cymbals and hats, and by the time the additional toms and snares come into view, its a distinctly rhythmic affair. The dense drums then share the stage with the flute line, that weaves its way through the rhythm, before it all hits. With such flair, the chiming chords interlace themselves with the pulsating bass, as additional stabs add extra texture to proceedings. Just like that, the melodic elements remove themselves, save for the bass, as the elements get drawn out and slowly reintroduced, creating wave upon wave of engagement and euphoria. The long drumming sections really wet the appetite, always feeding back into our hunger to keep moving and grooving. Its such a fucking belter, need I say no more. Next up comes 'Sharks, Lies & Videotapes', and the drumming patterns introduce us once more. Picking up similar elements from the previous rhythms, there is more emphasis placed on the snare, that abounds with pleasure, continually moving the track forward. The bass line and key sequence act to reaffirm the energy levels, that have at this point truly exploded. The melody moves into warmer, softer pastures, as the deep pads signal the first breakdown, where the key sequence is left to chime away to its hearts content. This then leads back into the fullness, where the varying layers of sound work in perfect harmony, the balance between beat and keys expertly and delicately crafted. Around the 4 minute mark, is where the record sees its first distinct shift in tone. As the night eases out, we move into a lush horizon line of everlasting colours and lines, where the keys wrap themselves around mountains and the sky joins them in a warm embrace. Its a magical moment, one that was continually delved into by 80s emotive electronica, and beautifully re imagined here. Damn.


Up next comes the first of two remixes on the record, with Lauer stepping up to the plate first with his take on 'Habibi Dub'. Lauer is well known for his bold explorations of progressive melodic filled dance music, so he seems a natural fit for remix duties. The drumming takes on a slightly new texture, with more emphasis on creating dense lines through effects and manipulations of sound, and it sounds superb. The key work moves within the lines, stabbing down with soft intensity, moving more along the lines of sequences than pad focuses. The track moves forward at a lightening pace, always looking for new and exicting ways to move the vibe forward. The breakdown is where it all happens, as the drums recede to give over the full flavours of the melodic spectrum. Proper stuff this. Finally, to finish things up, we have the Mix & Fairbanks take on the title track. Up next comes 'Joe Armstrong Theme', that keeps the blood pumping, the night isn't quite over yet. The sparse and deep set drums move underneath samples of crickets and night orientated nature sounds, as the ominous bass line breathes between the sparse drums. Sequences drift around the structures, looking for the right moment to strike, as the track takes its time to build up mood and intensity. As the sprinkling of keys emerge in the background, we immediately see a time to move into the song completely, the immersion seemingly too good to turn down at this point. The track then slows itself down a bit, to really milk out all the tonal excellence it can, the soft chords moving into the full picture now. Its a real all over kind of experience, a breather, before the drums kick right back into it. This track contrasts so beautifully to the previous efforts, in that its more low slung approach to progression gives it a completely new kind of atmosphere, where the fast pace becomes the slow mover, the drifting at sunset becomes the unknown exploration of the night. To finish things up, we have the Mix & Fairbanks remix of 'Habibi Dub', and we get left with one final look back into the sunset. The track operates within the lower end of things, with the drumming patterns creating a real progressive notion, with the bass line and soft chords in the background operating to give the track real depth. This softer approach is a lovely re interpretation of the tune, looking to emphasis varying elements to re-capture and re-imagine its beauty one more time. Stunner.


COEO always bring something to the table. Be it with edits that ignite dance floors, or dreamy house that always emotionally connects, they have been shaking up the formulas for what feels like forever. Now, with this beautifully conceived EP, they delve deeper into their ideologies and visions to capture yet another essence, and package it ready for dance floors to come alive again. Not content on doing it just once, or twice, they always do it, reaching deeper into a pool of historical passion and knowledge to continually bring forth music that just never stops giving. Its dance music as pure imagery, transporting us to newly discovered scenes and environments, some not of this time but others remarkably in the here and now. This wonderfully fresh record proves that the duo have a winning formula on their side, and it is exactly what 2020 needs right now. Simply astounding.


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