Vincent Floyd - Music Therapy (NICEPEOPLE, 2020)
One of house music's most enduring and respected figures conjures up another slice of heaven on the latest NICEPEOPLE release.
Ethereal. Reflective. Tender. Emotive. These are just a few of the words that can be associated with the spectrum of deep house that was emerging in the late 80s and early 90s. During this time, the jackin' style that dominated the Chicago scene became intertwined with the cosmic sensibilities of Detroit techno, and the result was a few years of sheer excellence that would define house music for the next decade and beyond. The move occurred very much within a emotional realm, where deep swirling pads and choral arrangements would gently unravel over the consistent four to the floor, with the aim of the game seemingly to provide a window for the mind to fall through, and a surface for which our feet could still move. It provide a connection to people who wished to listen in their own leisure, our eyes closed yet our minds willing to wonder and float away on clouds of dreamy keys and sultry drumming patterns. But this didn't mean that the power of these tunes was lost on the dance floor, as revellers were able to connect so directly with this new take on the genre. It seems that producers around the time were conscious of this kind of impact with listeners, with the music that followed moving across the realms of emotional possibility - how the keys moved, how the progressions panned out, what blend of bass line worked the best with the drums. The essence, it seemed, was how the music connected, the way in which it made people feel, and what we could draw from it in terms of experience and pleasure. In short, it all comes across as beautifully considered music, its roots firmly entrenched in the ideals of the Chicago House scene but a eye and ear for all the expressionsim that occurred within electronica during that time period. The possibilities seemed endless, the scope for end product didn't have definition, so immersion within it all became the name of the game. Within the US and abroad, we saw an emergence of numerous scenes look to explore these avenues of sonicness within house, where the gentle tones wrapped around the hearts and minds, entrancing us with the beauty that rippled from deep within the tracks. It was a kind of dance music that captured a generation's imagination, and its power still resonates significantly to this day,
In regards to legacies that were forged during this period of time, you need to look no further than the icon that is Vincent Floyd. As deep house music grew into its exploratory and sublimely tender being, Floyd was very much at the heart of these developments, and just listening back to his early catalogue is testament to this fact. His music speaks to us on numerous levels, be it the beautifully considered chordal work, to the precise and sonically rich drumming patterns, we are able to establish ourselves very much within the sounds that wash over us from this well of riches. Its perhaps the overall tone and atmosphere that Floyd is able to conjure up from his music, one where melodic structures swirl around us whilst the beats underneath adhere to the rhythms that govern life itself. Its easy to immerse within his music, its invitation to us one that is unbelievable hard to turn down, with the goal of losing yourself emotionally just too hard to turn down. An elevated view of house music, one that exists soaring through the sky or flowing along the ground, we get this full and extremely vivid experience within his music, and that is something which always stays with you. These kinds of dynamics and relationships sing true from his superb debut, 'Your Eyes', that came out on Dance Mania in 1990, with Chan featuring on vocals. The title track was indicative of this kind of progressive and melodically rich direction that Floyd would take with his career, where chords from above met with Chan's expressive and powerful vocal performance, it truly was the start of something special. 'Cruising', which came out in the same year, and 'I Dream You', which arrived in 1991, were another two stand outs from within the context at the time, both solid gold classics that just affirmed Floyd's position as a key figure within the House scene. 'Heart Attack', released in 95' on the excellent Relief Records, showcased a more funky and rhythmically dense side to his sound, before the 'Magic' EP in 96' another beautiful representation of his deep house sound. A hiatus would ensue until 2014, when Rush Hour released 'Moonlight Fantasy', a excellent collection of unreleased tracks from Floyd's original period of music production. The vibes on the record display a very wide and diverse series of styles, from more chuggy downtempo house numbers through to familiar deep house deep in the set burners. Another record arrived in 2016, 'Vault One: Love's Pain', which was another superb collection of unreleased brilliance. The 'Circles' EP arrived in 2017, which was a collection of new original material, along with another reissue of another 90s classic, 'Hard To Love', and since then he has released a further three records of new material. Looking back, what threads this all together is the endless charm and emotive quality that exudes from Floyd's work, the character of his music speaking volumes on levels that remain both within the realms of our imagination, but elements which allow us to truly escape and give ourselves over to the music. Thought provoking, effortless in production and technique, and gorgeous in its sonic and emotional depth, Vincent Floyd is one of house's musics greats, his legacy confirmed by the music itself. Timeless, encapsulating, omnipotent.
So now we arrive at his latest effort, 'Music Therapy', that arrives via the young but impressive Italian label NICEPEOPLE. With releases from techno titan Orlando Voorn, Giuseppe Scarano, CJ and Soulvibe Inc., the label has already developed a sound that is engaging and affectionate in equal measure, and it seems a perfect fit for a new Vincent Floyd release. As to be expected, the music contained within the release comes with all the technical excellence and emotional escapism we have to come to expect, with Floyd really exercising creative will in relation to composition and textural application. To top it all off, we have Italian House producer Nico Lahs on remix duties, which only adds more intrigue and scope to a record that you will come back to time and time again. So, lets dip into it.
Up first we have the title track, and we are introduced to the kick that gently hums away underneath a expansive series of synths. The varying lines merge and dissipate across our field of vision, crafting a audial experience that constantly catches our attention, the keys seemingly resonating like stars in the night sky. The drop away leads into the additions of hats and claps, which seems to draw all these keys together within its rhythms, as more synth lines cascade through the middle of proceedings. The track has a real sense of vibrancy to it, with all the key progressions fluidly moving around each other with purpose and grace, their collective energies encouraging us to really get in amongst the action. The manner of transitions between full bodies segments and full on layered compositions is something to marvel out, as the essence of the track grooves and flows between structures of sparseness before building itself up in the most effective way possible. Delicate to the touch, warm to the listen, what an opener. 'What Have We Done' comes on next, and we begin with the kick underneath aquatic like keys. The chords take a backseat to proceedings, their presence permeating through the rhythmically rich drumming pattern that flowers into life very quickly into the track, and this arrangement moves along with such meaning for a few segments. Not wanting to be outdone by the excellent drumming patterns. Floyd drives home some beautiful key lines that run right on top of the drums, and provide a wonderful melodic dynamic to the deep set chords in the distance. We get locked into the two threads, one where the melodies are moving outside of the drums, with this incredible sense of vibrancy exuding from the track at every turn. In full flow this track is something else, its power coming from the sense of depth that can be attributed to Floyd's approach to production but also the immense dedication to how the keys operate in this track. The layers of sound come over perfectly, their arrangement a bit more loose and free form with the switches in drumming acting as the manner in which elements move away or come centre stage. A journey, a real powerful journey, is undertaken within this one. Gorgeous in every sense of the word.
Up next comes Nico Lahs' SouthSide Mix of the previous cut, and we begin with the kicks and deep set chords looming in the depths. As the drums pick up other elements, the chordal stabs start to rise further and further away from the foreground and into the picture, the single chord looping over and over as if it was building to something very special indeed. Sure enough, as the first key line smoothly slots itself into proceedings, the last note signals the move into the two chord progression, and its oh so glorious. The chordal swing now in full effect, the key lines move and groove around this base with ease and glee, with their full spectrum landing with maximum impact. The track then flows through the motions with all the grace in the world, the overall structure of the tune one that feels like a never ending stream of goodness. Lahs really captures the delicateness that made the original cut sing so well, and adds his own take on the manner in which the drums allow the melodic elements to really shine. The dynamic may have changed from a compositional sense, but it hasn't lost any of its brilliance. To wrap things up, we have 'You Never Knew Me', as the percussion leads the way once more. The kicks are quickly joined by hats, cymbals and congas, and before long the chords make their presence known. The breakdown in the drums leads to the all encompassing synth rising from a singular point to taking over the whole view, its sheer scale taking in all that is around it, which encourages the features underneath to counter act with continued rhythmic development. The pairing of the subtle bass line with this low end key line add greatly to this effect, as continued additions slot into the track with real ease. The atmosphere is what shines here to maximum impact, the feels that resonate from every corner of the track give over this real sense of purpose, a vision entrenched in emotive exploration and balanced composition. This record is truly remarkable, with such depth in scope and tone, not to mention the textured and layered approach to crafting musical experiences that have this open ended ness, as if anything could happen. The spaces that constantly present themselves, either by new additions or the removals, its house music that rejuvenates itself so naturally and intuitively. Only from the hands of a master of his craft.
There's an atmosphere that we can really reside within on this record, and perhaps that kind of experience comes from those who's vision is considered unique for a reason. Vincent Floyd has been carefully constructing his world for some time now, and it seems that there is still room to expand and accommodate. The music found within this record is just superb, a brilliant blend of melodically unending layers coupled with drumming sequences that channel the rhythms of life, with a level of emotional sophistication that only comes from being in tune with the music you want to make but also how you want your music to feel within others. Its what made people fall in love with Floyd's music then, and its what made us fall in love with it now. House doesn't get much better than this, and long may Vincent keep crafting out new ways to surprise and delight us. A pearl of a record.
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