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Deep88 - Intoxication Of The Power (What About This Love, 2020)

Mr Deep conjures up some enriching excellence on one of this year's most compelling deep house releases.

Sometimes within the current electronic music landscape, its tricky to see those who have been threading it all together and leading the way with their productions. With so much music to consider and access, you can often overlook the producers who very much stay ahead of the curve, their work almost a reference point for others to work from. Looking beyond into the 80s and 90s, we see the threads perhaps a bit more clearly, as time has moved forward and our understanding and hindsight allows the study to be more informed, as in with more contemporary threads we start to lose that connection a bit. However, when traversing back through the contemporary annuals a little bit, and getting to know a bit more what preceeded current musical developments, patterns begin to emerge that allow us to see with a bit more clarity with who was doing what and how those outputs could be considered a step beyond what was occurring. These individuals prop up within the vastness of music, their story and musical journey shining above due to their abilities and outputs, their craft focused on for its quality and depth. When we begin to see this, we are drawn to these threads that run through the past and up to the present, our intrigue heightened by the consistent ebb and flow of goodness that seems to remain consistent but seems to always allow for room to grow and accommodate. The ideals and visions start to shine through more brightly, their music becoming this beacon that takes our hand through the soundscapes, on a tour that follows concept and tones. Its a joyous and enriching experience, and one where you can learn enormously and passionately engage with music that means so much within the contemporary climate. Our celebration of these producers is down to their craft being refined and focused, their sound containing an enormous amount of self-belief that carries over to the listener. What they give over is a fundamental understanding of the genre they look to occupy, their knowledge built on a foundation of past concepts that is so brilliantly served up to us today, and in that we hear a familiar sound but there is always the possibilities of opening new doors.

Alessandro Pasini has certainly been craving his own story through the contemporary musical landscape, and that narrative is one of the strongest to run through it all. Under his Deep88 moniker, he has released some of modern day deep house's most endearing and celebrated releases, with each record serving up a continual development and refinement of his bountiful sound. Like flickering horizon lights or the warmth or a orange hue sunset, his records have an infinite yet tender intensity, with the broad and emotive qualities of the sounds within taking us to vivid and colourful environments filled with sound and interactivity. In many ways, perhaps why the sound is always so engaging is the deep rooted values that lie within it, with Pasini displaying a highly technical and spiritual understanding of what good house music needs to embody and represent. This comes across in every single one of his releases, be it one that demonstrates a more percussive drive or one where emotional responses permeate our minds, all of it captures that essence of the purity of deep house and what the genre can achieve when pulled off with such excellence. Pasini has a formidable discography, one which is such a pleasure and joy to delve in, as it dips and dives through so much brilliance and quality. During his career, he has spread his works over the five labels he founded, which include Zomarec, 12Records, Juice Records Us, Ascii Records and the most recent, What About This Love.

From within his back catalogue, we have selected some highlights from his Deep88 alias, that include the brilliant 'Removing Dust' LP from 2013; the mega deep and moving 'The Black Album' LP from 2016; and the endlessly entertaining 'Ascii Trilogy' album from 2018. Not just on the long player as Deep88 excelled, with many of his EPs showcasing his immense talents. Some selected highlights include the dreamy 'Italio 82' from 2011, that includes the absolute gem that is 'Don't Play Minimal, Play Minigolf'; the amazing 'Salsa House' EP from 2012; the mesmerising 'Believe in You' from 2014, which featured a certain Robert Owens on vocals; the moody and broody 'Berlinaric' EP from 2015; the excellent 'I Have To Buy Another Mixer' mini-album from 2016; the rhythmically expressive 'The Sp1200 EP' from 2019; the beautiful 'Harmony / Te Quiero' single, again from last year; and finally, the ethereal beauty that is 'Flute', again from last year. All in all, as Deep88 Pasini has conjured up some real moments of elegance and beauty, with such a consistency in quality and texture giving over one of contemporary house's best and most intriguing discographies. His sound is pure, the tones and feels of which could last into the night and beyond the realms of our imaginations. Pure escapism through some of the finest house going, his work and narrative remains one of the most important in contemporary dance music. If you have spare time, have a wander through his works, you will certainly fall in love.

So now we arrive at the latest stop off in the journey for Deep88, with his new album 'Intoxication Of The Power', on his What About This Love imprint. From the off, we immediately become familiar with the sights and sounds, 88 starting off with a formula that can be bought into and engaged with from the first second. The more you move through, the investment in the music becomes all encompassing, our hearts and minds given over for the eternal emotional workout, as we blissfully float away into the skies above. So, lets take a dip already!

Up first comes the title track, and we get into it from the off. The kick pounds away, the clap riding just above it, as the bass line pokes its head about the parapet to make itself known. This thumps away underneath, residing quietly within the drumming patterns, as distant chords start to churn on the horizon line. They swell and swell as time marches on, as the key line sequence starts to move its way into the limelight. The track in its full swing is something to marvel at, as the chords grow and grow in stature and presence, becoming more than just a backdrop. The delicate blend of full chords and little key lines is so infectious, and this layering gets to show off as the beat moves away. The vocal sample resides within this breakdown, giving this little opening narrative to the record that helps to contextualise the music going forward from this point in time. The drums then build up once more, and we get pulled back into it once more, our bond strengthening with each play through. Sublime ain't even the word. 'Nu Groove' pops up next, and we begin with the drums, yet this time demonstrating a new sort of sound. Their density takes the tempo down a bit, the layering more dense to give over this real sense of vibrancy and depth, which begins to work to maximum effect when the chords float into view. The emotive vortex once more does its thing, with us place firmly in the middle of all this unravelling gorgeousness, the music running through our minds and hearts, washing over us in a careful caress. The structure of the track relies on these small yet very impactful switches in drumming patterns and layers, with little introductions of cymbals and hi hats carrying the track forward with such purpose. A real burner, this one. Up next comes 'Bright Star (Extended)', and the kick signals the start of things. This is joined by the hi hats and claps, which is quickly joined by these slight cosmic chords that dwell deep within the voids of the track. They effectively fill the spaces within the drumming patterns, with the build up apexing with this gorgeous vocal sample that lifts the track to some dizzying heights. Its perfectly pulled off, like a big wave that is moving towards the beach before breaking and crashing down, it has that kind of energy behind it, but all achieved through the carefully developed melodic elements. The track then recycles this formula, the bass pounding along underneath as the vocal line is allowed a few more bars to do its thing, and its just marvellous. The flows in this track are off the chain, just superb up tempo house music that would do the business in any context. 'I'm Hot Flute U' comes on next, and it keeps the fire burning for sure. The drumming sequence sets the bar far and wide, but with that intro of the bass line you get the feeling this is gunna be something special, some retro feels in its stylings, and the track becomes just that. Those spacious chords come into play, along with the series of vocal samples that hark back to house's 90s glory days, with all the micro variations in beat structure giving this track such an edge. This is a ridiculous tune, one of such fucking excellence, damn, this is glorious. You just get lost in its brilliance, the flow between varying structures and arrangements leave us yearning for this kind of music to follow us around everywhere. Genius, nuff said.

'Technina' is up next, and the tempos drop down to a more slow paced level. The full and warm pads begin us off, creating a steady beat before it evolves into a much more complex and frantic sequence. As the beat continues to groove into the night, the chords come along for the party, their soft touch creating a wonderful contrast to the vibrant beats underneath. The combination works its magic on us, with the breaks in melodies allowing for the drums to remain in our focus but also draw our attention to the chords when required. The ebbs and flows are again so on point, the narrative that begins to emerge from this softly spoken piece of music could be discussed for decades to come. 'Cacaolat' emerges next, and we move up a gear once more with the tempos. The drums set the tone, as the bass line looks to bind itself to the beat with all its might. As the drums begin to evolve, the chord progression emerges in the backdrop, along with the little key lines that permeate their solid body. The track retains a very consistent level of energy, its intentions to really give you the workout you needed after all that emotional investment, and it works as well as you would imagine. 'Future' comes next, and the beat structure becomes a lot more loose yet dense with this one. The beat shows off an extraordinary level of dynamism and range, in the manner of its move from up high to down below, its quite the sight. As we get lost in the beat structure, the chords begin to emerge from within, their presence starting to take part full in proceedings, their layering working so effectively as a counterpart to the rich and rhythmic drumming happening underneath it all. 'End Of Summer' arrives next, and we are greeted by the soft rhythmic chords to soundtrack the world around us. The chords move away for a minute, as we get to really get into that pounding bass line and intoxicating beat structure that whips us up into all kinds of things. The chords swiftly return, as the two elements work in tandem together to craft yet another deep house groove from up above. The tune then flows through its varying micro transitions, something which Deep88 is a master of, the feel of the track continually moving and evolving to give over an experience like no other. By this point in the record, we have completely given in to anything Deep88 is going to throw at us, and this track is no different. An absolute stunner. And like that, we arrive at the final track of this modern day classic, a live version of 'Bright Star', recorded at K4. Much like the album cut of this track, you can just hear its fucking POWER within the crowd reactions, its sublime groove translating into a deep wall shaking freight train that powers right through the club. The gradual intro of the vocal samples brings the track right up there, its beauty and grace there for everyone to see and witness. For a moment, just close your eyes and imagine this all transpiring around you, the sights, the sounds, the vibe. You can almost reach out and touch it. Its a wonderful touch from Deep88 to include this live cut on the album, as it contextualises the music within a live setting, giving over a new sense of what the track means within a club environment. Its perhaps the best ending possible to a record that we feel might be one of the best from this year, a final force de force of power and emotion that charmed us right from the very beginning.

Within this record there is something very special, which lies at the very heart of each song. Its that relationship between drums and chords that transcends time and style, its the manner in which transitions create ripples that extend beyond the music we hear, its those beautiful relationships that exists between expanse and close knit. Deep88 does what he does best, and that is make high quality deep house. To say its just high quality is perhaps an understatement; to say he makes some of the finest deep house of the past 10 years feels much more appropriate, and with this record he truly demonstrates his talents, his narratives, his ideals and his vision. Surely one of 2020's best house records, maybe even the best.

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