Madhouse Records has dedicated a quarter of a century to producing deep and soulful house, employing the likes of Todd Terry, Christopher McCay and even Roy Ayers to grace the studio, promoting the sounds from Chicago, Detroit and further afield. Characterised by warm, innovate bass lines and seraphic vocals, Kerri Chandler’s prestigious label’s most recent release comes from Parisian producer DJ Steaw – who’s addition to the roster has received an ‘overwhelming’ response’ (Madhouse Recordings, August 2017).
DJ Steaw has released on labels including Hot Haus and his own labels Rutilance and Steaward, establishing himself in the Paris music scene with his unique production style and DJing at local venues Rex Club, Concrete and further afield at Fabric (London) and Tresor(Berlin).
DJ Steaw’s forthcoming EP, Bel Air, highlights the European DJ’s transatlantic influences, complimenting the label with the use of heavily swung drums and effervescent sub tones. His production style is a throwback similar to the sounds of the 90s and artists such as DJ Pierreand Mark Pritchard’s N.Y. Connection, with subtle hints of French House.
The EP opens with title track, Bel Air, launching you into dance with a raw kick and an energetic bass-introducing vocal. Bright and atmospheric pads float and disappear modulated by the filter cutoff at every bar to provide one of many rhythm sequences. The first breakdown slices through a carefully crafted ambience, ascending the tune with a series of organ stabs that could only be replaced with the word; PARTY! The organ sound is reminiscent of the revolutionary rave days of the late 80s and early 90s which re-injects energy and completes the song.
Reach Out sets the groove from the off with a punchy baseline, attitudinal drums and marimba awash with reverb and delay. The track is similar to Bel Air in theory; soft chords juxtaposed with lively drums, however the intensity is risen for the second track, progressing the listening experience throughout the EP.
Destiny, the final track of the release, opens with a rigid and gritty percussion pattern and animated bass synth. The mood is deeper than the previous tracks on the EP, reflected in the chord selection and extrospective vocal sample. The vocal dissolves into a sea of delay and dynamic effects, leaving the listener momentarily questioning whether the track has ended, before the bright and resonant chords return accompanied by delayed and spacey percussion.
DJ Steaw’s first Madhouse release is an accolade to Kerri Chandler’s ability to run a successful label, Steaw’s sound perfectly represents the the label’s 25 year history and brings an offering of new styles and concepts. His productions are well crafted, creating groove using little instrumentation and the EP progresses fluently.