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Various Artists - Amsterdam EP 1 (Late Night Burners, 2020)

A dazzling array of styles collide on this excellent mini compilation from the rising Amsterdam based label.

A mini collection of artists that fall within the spectral identity of a label is always a good litmus test to get to know it just a little bit better. Ever since the 1990s, there has been a continually steady surge of various artist records released through varying labels that look to demonstrate the core ideals of a label, what makes it tick, what kind of feeling is it trying to evoke, what sort of sound they are trying to push and how they want their music to resonate within listeners. Sometimes, the outputs remain on a consistent level, ensuring that we completely give into a singular and brilliant take on one genre, where we are enthralled by the continuous train of thought. This take on the compilation always does the business, a celebration of a label and its artists that provides an expected feeling within listeners, but further strengthens the bond between the two. At other times, labels will seek to push out mini comps that highlight the spectrum of sound they seek to inhibit, showcasing a variety of tones and moods that looks to stretch out the identity of the label to new places and zones. These records take you very much on a journey, a audial representation of where a label may have begun and where it wants to arrive at, each cut providing a sense of progression and mood, touching on all aspects of the world they live within. From this kind of experience, we feel encouraged to dive a bit more, perhaps go off on a tangent and seek what influenced each song, become a bit more familiar with the tones and styles on display, ultimately feel empowered to do our own little journey through music. Its quite a powerful introduction, and one that still works very well to this day.

Late Night Burners have been doing their thing for a bit now, that thing being putting out extremely high quality and infectiously deep dance music. Their records strike a chord through their considered and impactful melodic progressions, delightfully sensory textures, and overall tones that feel inspired by many that came before. Its another one of those labels that strike a balance between the sensibilities of the 90s, the ideals and core values of the dance, and the spectrum of current day features we closely associated with only the very best that is on offer. From soft and gently unravelling deep house, to acid infused stompers, to harder paced progressive techno, each record provides another page to the ever developing story, the music contained within a continuation of the previous efforts to reinforce our connections to concepts and musical contents. The label do the wonderful thing of finely balancing current artists with reissues of past glories, the past held in equal regard to the more familiar names of the current scene. The bridges built between the periods are very much on force here, with both the reissues and new releases giving and taking with equal measure, adding up to fuelling an identity forged by the spirit of electronica and how it can make people move and groove. Their discography has already become very impressive indeed, but our selected highlights include their 2018 debut, Kurley's warm organic 'Feelings' EP (aptly named!); the endlessly deep and expansive 'Made U' EP by Vegetable Disco, from the same year; the fast paced ecstasy inducing thrill ride that is Col.J and Matteo's split EP, 2019's 'Various Burners Vol.1'; the utterly phenomenal reissue of Raze of Pleasure's 1992 house classic 'Peace', from 2019; and the always excellent Riohv and his 2019 EP 'Places I've Been'. What all threads it together is music bound to the impacts that melodies and tonal environments can evoke, the core themes of good quality dance music all represented to the max on each release. As labels go, you would be hard pressed to find another that expresses itself as much as Late Night Burners does in this regard, a emotion fuelled trip through the spectrum that is bliss and enjoyment. We highly recommend taking a little walk through their records, its quite the journey.

And now we arrive at their latest, a new compilation entitled 'Amsterdam EP 1'. Whilst this record certainly feeds very much into the characteristics of the sound being cultivated on the label, we see a little expansions into new realms of percussive textures and patterns, that allows for a beautiful flow to move between the tracks. The harmonies and melodies are, as always, gorgeous and stimulating, and very much keep the notion alive that the music from Late Night will always set the dance floor alight with pure burning passion. So lets take a dip.

Up first comes Windows with his track 'Could I be Crazy'. The track begins with the expressive hi hats and cymbals leading the way, creating a smooth bedrock for the other elements to fall into place. Like a blinkering light, a little key line permeates through the haze every now and then, providing a human touch to proceedings. Then, the chords in the deep begin to swell, initially with a shyness but then coming into their own, as beautiful and vibrant elements. The vocal line gently filters through, as the drums pick up but never over reach, as that bass line slots into the overall structure just perfectly. It cuts right through the track like butter, creating a dynamic pulse as it moves through its progression, as the other elements respond to its larger than life feel. The track moves through various emotive scenes, as the evolutions remains fluid and crafts a real sense of engagement and evolution. So pure, so emotive. Up next comes Matchbox with their track 'Spaarndammerstraat'. We begin with the cosmic vastness, the chordal structures dominating the intro as we look to align ourselves somewhere within the soundscape. The breakbeat line swings into view, creating that understory of rhythm, propping up the chord with its rich flavour and fullness. This intro sees further pads come into play, adding another layer of immersion to the track, before it all breaks down for a minute. The structure looks to play itself out, the melodies taking a pause to allow the drums to set something up that you can just feel is going to be very special indeed. And oh how right we were, as the the kicks pulsate from underneath, the track remerging in its absolute full glory. The arpeggio key line radiates right through the middle, becoming the new tool in which everything else begins to feed into. Its a great set up, and the execution is top class, the track moving so intuitively from its beginnings and into its dynamic as hell middle part. All manner of sounds start to prop up all over, their presence fuelling the track's perpetual evolution, with breakdowns occurring at all the right moments to allow the tune to regroup. There is time for one last explosion of pure energy, and it occurs towards the end of the tune, with the silence lasting mere seconds before the fullness wraps around us once more. This time, further chord progressions are interwoven on top, with this final incarnation one of sheer majesty, with Matchbox looking to allow the kicks to stick around in order to really keep you within it all. Absolute class.

L.N.B is up next with their track 'Let's Create (Eternal Mix)', and we begin in more straight up territories. The kick drum signals the beginning, with the acidic line sliding in and out of the picture, with the beat starting to draw new elements to it as it powers along. Then comes the switch into the full bodies melody, the swirling keys diving and dipping between the kicks, as lovingly placed chiming keys add that little bit extra on top. In terms of Beaty dynamism, this one has it in spades, the relationships between the rhythms and keys working in real tandem with each other. As the chords move away, the tune moves forward into the dub territory, with the introduction of full bass notes filtering right through to the core of the beat, their presence reaching right through the track. The original chords move back into play, as if they never left, as they reclaim their position, washing over all and sundry. This arrangement is allowed to play out into the night, the tones and atmospheres so ethereal and considered. Lovely stuff. To finish up, we have MOOR with his track 'Moody B', and this tempo is the slow burner we all needed after that trip through the realms of power. The track begins off with the light bounce of metallic objects, quietly collecting all manner of things from around its context, as the chord line hums its way into view. The beautiful keys that crop up every now and then add real flavour to proceedings, before the bass kick grooves straight into view. The delicate nature of the track is matched by its wonderful arrangement and inspired use of instrumentation, from the sultry keys to the flute line, the sparse use of notes that float gently into view every now and then. Its a pure dub excursion if we ever heard one, a musical experience that is as much about sound design as it is about creating a vivid picture of the features contained within this living, breathing world. Its the perfect ender to a record with unending brilliance, where a collection of real talents have been brought together to craft their own interpretations of the past-present balance.

As various records go, this must be near the top of the pile for this year. A record with quality around every corner, a series of truly sublime moments where flows and transitions are the word of the day, our senses taken on journeys to the brim and back. From the brief times spent in the quiet, to the expanses of endless melodic beauty, through to the inspired and ingenious drumming patterns, the vibe curated here is one of ethereal mastery. Never do we feel far away from getting lost in outer space, nor do we ever loose touch with the emotional value of the tracks. Its an experience with our heads in the clouds, and our feet firmly on the ground. Four tracks, four different takes. An absolute stunner.

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