Trinidadian Deep - Dub Rockas (Phuture Shock, 2021)
Impeccable grooves, delightful keys, and beautifully composed tonal outlines make up the latest effort from the mind of Deep House maestro Trinidadian Deep, with the record landing on the ever impressive Phuture Shock imprint.
House music gets approached very differently by the many producers who call the genre home, but few emphasise it's potential as an exercise in craftsmanship and progression. Towards the end of the 80s, House had morphed from it's jackin' infancy and mellowed into a incredibly diverse collection of sub-genres, one of which, Deep House, would completely change the sonic outlook of the genre and take it to some incredibly serene places indeed. The atmosphere of Deep House became defined by long drawn out compositions that switched with ease between differing densities and layers, with it's core foundation bound so tightly by impeccable rhythmic patterns and perhaps the most important aspect of all - the keys. Keys were always an important aspect of House, their presence in the original movement kept high above the drums as a means to induce moments of euphoria on the dancefloor, but now the shift moved into unraveling and seemingly unending flows of tone that soaked up all the spaces found between the drums with passion. The 90s saw a huge influx of producers and labels beginning to engage with this kind of House, with the resulting collection of records released around this time truly a sight to behold, with all kinds of differing applications occurring between trains of thought that all feed from the same bowl but practised their craft ever so slightly differently. It was a time where house became so much more than the four to the floor, with a plethora of moods on display that continually grew and multiplied with each passing moment to provide listeners with experiences that they could grow into both on the dance floor and back home, on the couch on a drizzly Saturday morning. The genre became a reflection of life itself, mirroring our every move as we dipped and dived about our daily routine, acting passively as a musical tonic to our day to day notions but providing a warm home for us to come back to, it's encapsulating qualities easing us into a relaxing evening or getting the energy pumping for a night out. Music in the 90s very much became a substance that worked both the body and the mind to see and move differently, and House was no different, becoming more than the cream of the club as it worked the neurones and inner visions of people across the globe. House was always a genre with feeling, but the Deep House purveyors took this to new heights of possibility, meandering and weaving their way through the crossroads of electronica to bring to us every single shade imaginable of emotion. To this day this representation has not only survived but multiplied ten times over, with often the best contemporary releases showcasing these ideals to the max, with the longer style lovingly key laden compositions still a fixture within the sea of House releases. As we take in all there is to do with this particular strain of House, we see certain producers flying the flag high for it's continued excellence, their passion and attitude meaning that our eyes follow their every move with a feverish intensity, eager to hear what brilliance they might have conjured up next. As a subset of the genre's overall identity, it's vibe is eternally timeless, and with so many directions in which to turn and explore there is no end in sight for which producers can reach out and bring forth something spectacular, and for some producers they really do have that special touch when it comes to putting together something magical indeed. Mastery of the craft and progression, these were the hallmarks of the early 90s Deep House sound, and those ideals still ring true today from the hands of a select few who have truly mastered the craft of perfected timelessness.
If there was a producer who summed up all of these ideals and more, then it has to be Trinidadian Deep, who since the mid 2000s has been churning out some of the most spiritual and compelling Deep House going. Deep was a fixture in the Toronto scene during the late 90s and early 2000s, playing alongside some of the best talent in the city in underground spots, and it wouldn't take long to diversify his interests to include production too, which began in 2006 with a series of releases on his cousins Ron Trent's Future Vision Records. Deep's music seems heavily embedded within the kind of sound that was so prevalent in the 90s, with longer compositions becoming a standard template in which for enriching melodic sequences to flourish and invigorating drumming patterns to ignite the bond through rhythm. His music remains very much a totality in terms of experience, with careful attention placed on how the track unravels as time passes by, as we get placed somewhere in the middle of the momentum with an ability to look 360 degrees around to get an understanding of the full scope, and that scope is truly remarkable indeed. Each record that comes our way shifts the core focus ever so slightly, with the melodic outline always differing in terms of placement and tone, the drums morphing from what came before but never failing to impress in terms of their depth, as the emphasis placed on world building and narrative begins to shine through from all corners of all the compositions. His sound remains one that is deeply absorbing, inviting us along for the ride as we feel engaged from start to finish, uplifted by the combination of African inspired percussion and vocals, Dubby bass lines, deep chordal progressions and a tone that could move mountains and hearts alike. In terms of narratives that persist within dance music, his is one of dizzying heights and gorgeous feels, the music's vibe sticking with us as we go about our businesses, it's vibrancy lighting up everything we do. There is a real sense of purity to it, a feeling that translates itself from deep within and reaches right to the top of proceedings, with the resulting soundscapes something to hold close and cherish to the end of days. Deep has released so many fab records over the years that it's hard to pick favourites, but here we go, starting off with the vibrant and diverse feels found on the 'Inner Love' record, that landed in 2010; the upbeat and expertly groovy 'Deep Love' EP, that arrived in 2012; the mind boggling feels found within the utterly sublime 'Vision & Sound' record, that was released in 2013; the thought provoking narratives found on the 'Rebirth' EP, which also arrived in 2013; the rhythmic and melodic excellence found within the 'Dem Jump' record, which arrived in 2014; the driving force of nature that is the 'London Steps' record, which came out in 2016; the dynamic and ever shifting presence found within the 'Native' EP, which landed in 2016; the exquisite tones presented to us on the 'Guidance' record, which arrived in 2016; the power and the presence of the 'Native Revolution' record, which arrived in 2018; the endlessly traversing feels of the 'Organic Roots' record, which also arrived in 2018; the deep expanses that resonate from within the 'Native Travels' record, which also arrived in 18'; the superb 'Tribute Songs' record, also from 2018; the incredible 'Various Vol.1' record, that was split with fellow illuminary Ewan Jansen, which arrived also in 2018; the incredible organ led compositions found on the 'Native Culture' record, that arrived in 2019; and finally, the electrifying pulses found on the exquisite 'Soca Electric' vinyl, that arrived in 2020. Having gone back and listened to his works, it's hard to quantify Deep's sound into a few words, but it's easily one of the most impressive bodies of work that exists within the Deep House spectrum, and that's all down to the way in which he approaches every single record. You know the drill but the application and elemental features will differ each time, their outlook shifting from the deeply uplifting to the heartfelt, from the longingly sombre through to the infectiously joyous, it's a spectrum of fulfilment that only comes when your head is in the clouds and your body is moving to the rhythm. Trinidadian Deep's music is all about the totality of experience, and as Deep House producers go, you ain't gunna find much finer than he. Go check out his works, simply by picking any record and just diving headfirst into it, you won't be disappointed.
And now we arrive at the subject of today's review, 'Dub Rockas', which arrives via the Bristol label Phuture Shock. Deep's sound feels right at home on this label, which has provided to us over the past few years some deeply thought provoking music from all corners of the globe, and with 'Dub Rockas' things are absolutely no different. Proceedings are a highly infectious affair, with Deep combining elements of Soca, Dub and Yoruba mythology within his traditional blend of intricate drumming patterns and soaring melodic sequences, with the flow between tracks characterised by some ingenius transitions within the layers. As ever within his records, we simply float along, just above the mid section of the frequencies, our hands reaching out and touching the soaring organ line as the kicks create ripples beneath our feet, our eyes peeking over the clouds as the energies beneath cause us to rise higher and higher, to that realm where space and the ozone meet. It's sheer bliss that's soundtracked by some of the most exceptional Deep House you will hear all year, and in all fairness it's what we have come to expect from an true master of his craft. So, without further delay, lets dive right into this absolute gem of a record....
Up first we have the title track, and this one begins within a suitably dense soundscape indeed. The pulsating bass line is matched by the kick in terms of placement, and as the sirens come into view we start to see the pace pick up a little bit, and before long we arrive at the core progression of succulent drumming patterns and increasingly densifying melodics. The Dub vocal samples cut a sharp corner across the composition, creating this short but very memorable jumps forward, with the lead key line coming into view in all it's glory a short time after to get us completely locked into proceedings. The bass line then emerges as a key aspect of the rhythm, and as we flow onwards we see the organ begin to shine in the top ends of the composition, it's driving and weaving nature pushing us further into the realms of euphoria. The track takes a deep dive into the bottom ends as the high line melodics take a breather, with this part of the display showing us the truest extents of the dub, but in no time we arise once more into the percussive progression and the organ line, and we are truly immersed by this point. The track then sees itself out from here, content in it's knowledge that it has moved mountains with it's depth and presence, with our thoughts turning to perhaps pressing play once more to get to grips with the full force of it all. A superb opener. Up next comes 'Euston Street', and this one starts off in similar sonic territories. The drums are clear and crunchy, their foundational feel supporting a striking key line on top that cuts right through the spaces being created, and before long the ensemble is added to with all manner of rhythmically engaging drumming lines. A big swell then abounds from within to signal the switch into the next phase, as the original key line doubles up to include a new layer that compliments the bassy underbelly with some melodic flavour. The composition sees all manner of layers move in and around the progression, with drumming segments sliding in and out of view which helps build a very impressive picture indeed, one where the middle of the pan is reserved for the keys to drive through whilst the drums occupy the left and right of the picture. The first significant flair occurs when the descending key line comes cascading down from above to dissipate somewhere deep in the momentum, and after this has occurred a few times we see the organ emerge from within. It's flow seems somewhat embedded within the flow but then triumphantly rises up to craft that transition that felt like it had been building for the whole tune. The organ lines multiply and go in stature as time passes by, rising higher than ever as we transcend so many plains of existence and feeling, lucidly grooving in the clouds as we look at the ground beneath and stare with utter wonderment. What an incredible track.
To wrap things up, we have 'Cultured Roots', and this one takes the feel into an infinitely sunny place indeed. The track opens up immediately with the lush vibrant chordal sequence lovingly laying itself over the lightest of drumming patterns, all of which becomes further contextualised with the vocal sample ringing out across the plain as deep chordal swells begin to permeate through. The piano takes you away to different places as continued percussive elements start to peak through the haze and emerge into the clearest of days, as we become struck with the subtle manner in which the layers begin to multiply and grow with each passing phase. The delightful backdrop chords start to soak through to the top, adding further intrigue into the mix as they flow in and out of view with an interchangeable mixture of excellence, it's like watching nature itself unravel in the morning light. The kicks take a pause to provide some breathing room for the keys and other percussive elements to really show off their fullest potential, but we jump right back into it as we lift off right back into the majesty of it all, as further soaring key lines add depth and flavour to the momentum. The synth lines that follow are mesmerising to the ears, their tone and placement simply perfect as we find ourselves constantly shifting between differing spaces in the track, our eyes darting around in order to take in everything that has been placed before us. The track then takes it's time to craft more drawn out segments that see the keys shift through the sands of possibilities, the man behind it all weaving the most intricate of webs with the ingredients that have been pulled together to make this mini-masterpiece. We leave this experience full of hope, joy and light euphoria, our eyes fully opened once again by the possibilities of Deep House when it's pulled off like this, and it's a trope that we have come to fully expect from Trinidadian Deep.
To craft a narrative that links your previous works to the newest but still finds the scope to introduce new ways in which to rework that narrative is always impressive, and with Trinidadian Deep's works he always finds a way to wow us every single time. With this record we are greeted with deep expansive tones that spark intrigue within us, and from that point onwards we remain locked in to all that he has planned for us, and the way in which these tracks unravel is just glorious. The way in which key sequences groove in and around the rhythmic foundation, the manner in which the drum lines shuffle in and out of view, the manipulation of textures and tones to create atmospheres that feel like they are constantly growing, it all just works so very well. We find ourselves trying to explore all facets of the compositions, such is the complexity that Deep applies to his work that repeat listenings are mandatory to get a grip the enormous potential found in these cuts. It's a masterclass in melody, technique and composition, and we cannot recommend it enough. True Deep House from a modern day icon.
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