Nico Lahs - Visions (Dailysession Records, 2020)
2020 might be the Italian Producer's year as we celebrate yet another superb deep house EP, which just adds more to his impressive discography.
Nicola Loporchio has had a year to remember, and we've only just passed the halfway mark. The Cosmic Rhythm founder has spent a significant amount of time demonstrating his credentials as a supremely impressive talent, not just in the quantity of the records he pushes out but mostly the quality and diversity he looks to implement via his various aliases. Operating primarily within his realms as a deep house producer, Loporchio has always struck gold with whatever genre he wishes to incorporate within his sound spectrum, be it looking within the spectrums of dream house, old school junglism or beautifully considered jazz house, he always finds a way to spin his own narrative and style within everything he does, and this has crafted such an incredible narrative into his music. The threads that exist within his discography allow for the most concise and enjoyable listening experience when moving back in time through his works, his identity and passion leaping from every single piece of work he involves himself within, his visions only endearing us to his music more so with every release. This year Loporchio revived his Nico Lahs moniker to provide us with the debut album under the name, 'Freedom', which remains one of this years stand out house orientated LPs, with so many superb nods to the US deep and jazz house sound alongside many fantastic moments that simply take the collective breath away.
He also provided some killer remixes on a couple of our favourites from this year, which include the excellent 'Itza Blackout' EP from the versatile producer Paid Time Off, and his remix off of the latest Vincent Floyd release, 'Music Therapy', which was another superb release from the deep house icon. Alongside that, as a member of both Mediterranean Key Collective and XPRESSION, he was involved in two brilliant new release on the label Cosmic Rhythm, 'Fragranza' and 'Come To Me', both of which remain stand out releases of this year and just further cement Loporchio's reputation as both an amazing producer and label head. To say it's been his year has been an understatement, with so much goodness released across the board, its hard to imagine one other producer who has been more prolific but perhaps more importantly pushed out such quality and diversity in relation to releases. His music may drift and bend a bit, but you never lose sight of his overall sound - as well rounded and across the spectrum as it is, you always know when you listen to a record by Nicola Loporchio.
So now we arrive at his latest piece, 'Visions', that arrives via the NYC imprint Dailysession Records. Much like some of his previous works, Lahs spins and weaves his seductive jazz house sound around this song with ease and adoration, crafting a series of cuts that remain as spellbinding and evocative as ever, where the progressions in drumming and melody do their very best to allow us to keep floating away into the early evening sky. Dailysession has been releasing some really beautiful releases over the years, with the likes of Larry Heard, Jordan Fields, Alfonso Bottone and label head DJ Monchan churning up some wonderful feels within its discography, and looking back through it it feels very appropriate for Lahs to offer up his latest record within its musical family. A house record that goes above and beyond on the melodic side of things, where we are treated to the heart on the sleeve productions that Lahs always offers up, where the threads that hold it all together develop on so many levels to provide an overall experience that demonstrates the best qualities of house, and then some. And hey, its the kinda of thing that we would expect from Nico, who is developing into one of the shining stars of the genre.
Up first we have the opener, 'The Right Way', which launches us right into proceedings with a bang. The kicks remain high pitched in a sense, crafting a real pulse that shines through the track, as the looping vocal sample works wonders on top of the sea of rhythm, as chords swirl and dance around the vocal sample so effectively, creating a truly unique feeling introduction sequence. The vocal loop cuts out, diminished to a softly spoken line, as the kick cuts out for a moment before we are introduced to the radiate bass line, that thumps and thuds away underneath with such gusto, as Lahs completes the percussive journey with the introduction of the hats and cymbals. This then leads back into the intro melodic set up, and we become fully immersed in the mastery of it all, the chords swinging back into view as the track does a bit of movement between structures, before slamming into the main melodic bridge, where the main vocal line sweeps through the middle, with the looping presence in the backdrop continuing on its onward journey. The track flips once more into the beaty break bit, where the track looks to breath ever so slightly, before leading right back into the melodic sequence, that we could truly listen to for a lifetime. Its dynamic feel that bounces between the sides of the vocals within the mid point and the swirling chords that clamber and meander on the sides, its just so perfectly pulled off. The perfect mid afternoon by the pool kinda track, bursting with appropriate levels of energy and tone, never needing to exceed its limits, simply content to remain on its quest to jazzy vocal excellence (something which it certainly pulls off with all the skill in the world). Up next comes 'Futurism', and we emerge into somewhat similar surroundings, abit more stripped back and sparse for the time being. The deep set chords expand and contract in the backdrop, their tone and feel very much on point, allowing themselves to drip with character, and the drums that dominate the foreground have a lot going on too, their skippy choppy nature the perfect companion for the melodic features that permeate underneath. A truly breathtaking introduction sequence then leads seamlessly into the next structure, with the jazzy funk key line adding further flavour to proceedings, their presence crafting a new line of texture, and before long the single line becomes the dual, with the flash in the pan of the fast paced key line disappearing as quickly as it appeared. The rhythmic quality of the track stands out the most, its feel and flow hard to think about in a tangible sense, but its overall sonic quality and groove is mesmerising, simply in a sense of just engaging and immersing yourself in it. A proper eyes closed and head nodding kind of contentment, as we drift off into the heat of the night, or perhaps some compelling backdrop we can't quite put our finger on. Perfection.
Up next comes 'Mind Frames', and we descend into a enriching full sound that could move mountains. The kicks as ever feel expertly placed within the swelling keys and chords that shimmer in the distances, the night sky permeated by flickers of lights from distant cities, as Lahs takes his time to build the investment in the track, allowing the drums to evolve and prosper before giving too much away melodically. The cymbals then begin the upward trajectory of the keys, their presence glowing and growing with each passing section, as we now arrive into an beautifully considered soundscape that is as rhythmically rich as it is softly evocative, and this dynamic just keeps getting stronger and stronger with each passing minute. Additional key lines add further depth, as the chordal arrangements grow more in terms of depth and range, with the drums underneath responding in likeness, the relationship between the two less about backdrop and foreground but as more as a blissful mid ground, where the two flourish in each others company. Lahs has always shown a delicate touch to building tracks from the ground up, but this one might be at the pinnacle of these kinds of cuts, mostly due to the time he takes to reach the enormous swell that exudes during this sequence of the song. Its a pretty special moment, and one that will resonate with us for a long time to come. To finish up this superb record, we have the title track, and we land feet first into this one for one final journey through the pillars of the Nico Lahs sound. The track once more begins in subtle surroundings, with the cosmic synths drifting and breathing gently in the backdrop, as the jazzy chordal lines begin to underpin them and bring the track into a more prominent audial position. The drums have remained soft but purposeful all the while, their graceful movements giving the track a real sense of swing and forward momentum, as the melodic features begin to rise further and further. The crux of the groove resides in the four chord movement that floats into view as a kind of framing device, whilst the spaces between are left for all kinds of cosmic expressions, giving a real sense of depth to proceedings, which provides us with the perfect drop into the breakdown. The track takes a breather before diving straight back into it all, as we truly begin to drift away into the pleasure zone, our hearts and minds sealed and bound to this track, indeed the whole record by this point. It's just another record from the producer that gracefully slides right to the top of the charts for this year, and is just another example of just how damn good the man is at producing and at channelling his passions and visions into his art.
There are many tones and atmospheres that crop up on this record, but the approach and technique always seem to align with each other, and its that thread which makes for excellence. Lahs has always demonstrated his wide ranging sound on his numerous releases, often taking it upon himself to deliver as many styles and feels as possible, and this record is absolutely no different. His deft hand at production but also the manner in which he builds and crafts songs is second to none, with each track expanding and blossoming with such grace and beauty, the many levels of rhythm and keys developing and growing together on a journey that has no end in sight. The kind of music that remains within our hearts and minds long after we have finished engaging with it, and that is a very powerful feeling indeed. 2020 might only be half way through, but Nico Lahs has already come up with some of the most thought provoking and diverse dance music going. Bravo, once again.
Support the troops: