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Newworldaquarium - The Dead Bears (NWAQ, Delsin, 2019, Repress)

Linking the soundscapes of the 90s to the present day, Newworld crafts and curates a vision like no other on this deep house masterpiece.

Sometimes house can do a lot with very little. The careful placement of tweaked and designed sounds, carefully placed and nurtured, can create a sense of audial pleasure and delights. House started out as a simply composed feeling, a vibe that captured the hearts and minds of clubbers in Chicago in the 1980s. It morphed, naturally evolving into sub genres in the 1990s, such as disco house, italo house and the like. Deep house, developed during the Chicago era primarily by Larry Heard, would remain as one of its most treasured and important legacies, and one that has been retained since that point up until the present day. Heard's sound evolved during the 1990s, to include more complex and layered compositions, but there is an elegant level of simplicity involved in many of his greatest tracks. Doing more with less, but making it sound unbelievably deep was always one of his greatest production skills. This element always strikes true with the great deep house tunes, an ability to move people via the use of synths and no vocals, is a great skill; to add in a evolving musical landscape within that, well only the very best can do that.

Newworldaquarium, aka Jochem Peteri, is very much within this mould of producers. Incessantly focused on the melding of sounds, and how keys and synths sound, he paints a bold picture with his music. A whirlwind that slows to unravel its power around us, his compositions repeat and grow with each bar, each scene, evoking powerful imagery for us to get involved within. The level of production is unparalleled, taking us through an excursion of to what a single chord or note can do, a series of drums can achieve. We are dipped into an empty room that is filled and populated with the tones and textures of his music, a feeling that we become more familiar with as the music develops and unravels. Another element is his subtle introduction of atmosphere, that begins more softly before it reveals its innards to us, a vast sound scape that grows from a single point to something much greater than that. A living breathing feeling is found within the music, one that is hard to come by within house music in particular. The notes and music come alive, from their deep depths to their soaring highs, everything is in its place, and everything feels human. His music hynoptises us, starting out at the epicentre of a storm before it graces us with sunshine, like the plateau has been reached. This is apparent through all his productions, from the low-fi reaches of his 2000 release 'Theme From', through to 2002's 'Trespassers', and of course to his original 'Dead Bears' release in 2007, his music finds a infinite boundary, presenting limits that bounce the music back inside on itself. The richness and specifics of his melodies just keep moving onwards, being propelled by their quest for sonic perfection.

And now we come to this, the reissue and addition to Peteri's 2007 LP, 'Dead Bears'. This reissue comes with some additional tracks that originally came on EPs released during the 2000s. It is essentially the original album plus the important tunes he released, or perhaps it is the most appropriate tracks considering the context of the vibe of the album. Expect the usual heavy and heaty synths, dripping and oozing with rawness, the hearty drums serving up beats, and all the other things thrown in. This record is very much one that bears (haha) a significant amount of time, love and attention, and one that continues to serve up different moods each time you listen to it. A fascinating collection of deep house and outsider techno that when placed within the timeframe it was released, very much feels like a link between the past and future. Low fi, dub techno, old and new deep house, all flow through this record, its life source a reflection of things that came before, and almost anticipating what would come next. A honest and unravelling release, it feels stripped bare, the layering of simple lines and patterns supporting a rich vein of dance music that runs through the heart of the record. So, lets give it a go.

First up we have 'The Force'. This one starts off with a high and fat as hell kick drum, underneath a key line that grabs our attention. These two elements will be consistent throughout the entire tune, but its what comes on top that takes this tune to another level. The concept of elevation is true for his works, the idea of notes that hum and drone, before being released at a moment when we become familiar with what is happening already. In the background, there is this ever swelling synth line that bounces between the left and the right, building itself up with energy. The swell starts, its starts off slow, before it chimes up and further than ever before. We close our eyes and it all starts to open itself up, the tune showing its true colours. The transition is seamless, the feeling elevated up. The tones and textures are so rich, the attention to detail is so very impressive. All the while we are taken away by this tunes unreal vibe; rarely can house music be this repetitive and get away with creating a feeling of wonder, utter bliss and serenity at the same time. It keeps going, and we are left to think that its probably always playing in the background, just waiting for us to come back to it (that we always do). Up next is 'Star Power', and is the perfect compliment to the previous track. Slow and dubby, the drums have a very high level of dynamism about them, not as relentless as the previous, making more of a point about their power and groove. On top, a light synth pad glows, throbbing inbetween it all, as key lines reverberate like night lights. The tune exists down here as much as it does up there, layered to perfection, channelling its energy into our very souls. Next we have 'Noworldbutu', that brings it down once again. The grains come out in full force here, as the keys and violin strings poke their heads above and bob along to maximum effect. Again we are presented with the backbone of the tune immediately, but its all in those evolutions baby! A droning synth comes into play, as the kick drum moves up a notch to match the introduction. The tune plays out like a series of sceneries, moving from place to place, urban areas to the countryside, street to street. It has this ever evolving feel to it, with Newworld adding in little bits here and there that keep the tune ticking over. Its like the emotion just keeps coming, like waves, insistent in its rhythm but soft in its touch, its sound. Its mood perfectly matches its texture, its grainy nature reminds us of remote summer holidays where we maybe tried to escape or reflection on a feeling or emotion. Damn this shit is good. To finish side B, we have 'Avon Sparkle'. Newworld here takes the flow from the previous scenes, and pumps it through the techno cannon. The beats flow out of this hard, with the soft synths beneath, channelling a new level of energy into the tune. Little lines shine through, like stars and dreams in the sky. But these never leave the limits of the drums panning, just grooving away to the beat, softly breathing in amongst this effortless sonic experience.

Onto side C, we have 'Trespassers', originally released in 2002. The kick drum grabs us by the face and leads us into line, as swirling lines abound on top. Little key lines join in, Moodymann/Omar S/Theo stylings, but this tune is just ridiculous. The layering and introduction of elements is just of another world, and now it fully has our attention. The guitar sample kicks In, as the drums relentlessly dig in deep to add such power to the groove, one not quite felt on many house tracks. The elements swell and grow and swell yet again, locking us in big time, that when the hi hats kick in, ecstasy follows. God damn what a groove! Up next comes 'The tide you can't feel'. The tracks on this record do somewhat feel quite elemental, the notion of wind, water and all things flowing really do seep from these tunes. Here, the drums slow down, with the small bass line following them, as synth chime and dwell on top. This is proper dubby techno, abet at a slightly higher tempo, but still retains that depth and tone. To end side D, we have the really dubby one, 'The Dead Bears'. This one digs reaaaal deep, with a slow and pulsating bass line joined by reverberating synths, and a deep as hell vocal sample that laments on top. We get lost in the narrative as much as we do the music, so fucking hypnotic in its delivery and its tone. No respite, no letting up, it just moves us down the drain pipe, like we are moving slowly through a tale of woe, but its all weirdly uplifting. Up next we have 'Shine Eyed'. This is a pure one, a tune that doesn't need to lift off the ground, its all about the textures here. The ambient nature of this song is left behind as we descend into this gritty and almost non-melodic tune, a metallic and grey world moulded and shaped by techno. It leaves us very much open to interpretation, with the narrative left to the imagination of those who seek to delve deep into this tunes haunting realities. To finish side E, we have the classique 'N.Y.'. The drums kick as hard as the gritty tones on top, with the bass distorted to shit as it fumbles to the deeps. Synths every now and then are replenished of energy, but this one again is testing the melodic natures of both house and techno. There doesn't seem to be one, we are left within a trance. The clear synths atop the distorted and twisted drumming pattern, leaving us in the middle, looking up and daring to look down.

To finish up, we have 'Kirana's Lament', that takes us back into the realms of upbeat house. Perhaps the most traditional track on the record, here we are transported from worlds dominated by hard things to a more soft and plush environment, where our smiles return (instead of a constant sense of amazing bewilderment) and we dance once again. The tune itself again displays this mans qualities as a producer, finding those limitless boundaries that flex to the max. He adds in some real nice varieties on the drumming too, with hi hats and cymbals added in for good measure. The melodies are tight, fresh and upbeat, giving us yet one more groove to get lost in. Finally, we have 'Kemo Sabo'. One last time, we hold hands and move between consciousness and reality. The synths hold up some kind of refracted world, a window into the mind of the maker, where we just stand and become transfixed by its inherent beauty. The swirling, the blending, the movement, all come together into an audio experience unlike no other. We feel something throughout this record, but here we just stand back and dip and take whatever feeling or reaction we might get from this one. Simply stunning.

A link between the past and the future. Then again, is this music defining the future? at times it feels like it might. Doing more with less never sounded so good, but only because the person doing it made all the right moves, creating loops and bridges that probably never end. They are their own being, existing beyond our minds just when we listen to them, transcending into something that exists beyond our expectations of what dance music is. Newworldaquarium has create a universe here, something grounded in the tangible, but endless in its experience and richness. Sonicness never sounded so tantalising, so I'll let you listen and be the judge of it.

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