Switched On – Steve Spacek: Houses (Black Focus)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

In which Steve Spacek goes back to basics. House music has always been at the heart of his musical thinking, but he feels it has been a long time since he indulged himself in a 4/4 beat. He does so through a long player made solely with iPhone and iPad apps, in Spacek’s words using technology to join the past with the present.

What’s the music like?

Spacek can never really sit still, which is a helpful quality to have in house music! Because of that he is always subtly creating and innovating.

In this case the past is still relatively recent – Detroit techno – but he adds his own welcome quirks to the mix, bringing in vocals to point towards soul and even experimental jazz. His own vocals are as distinctive as ever, while the resultant style is one that purposely includes UK rave music in a kind of transatlantic fusion.

As far as that translates to individual tracks, Tell Me is a really nice hybrid of deep house and UK garage, the latter diffused through its bassline. There are some nice bumpy beats and bass to African Dream which gets bigger perspective through faint keyboards. Song Life is really nice, deep and smooth with a good mix of polish and instinctive writing, which typifies the album. Love 4 Nano is great, with a cosmic synth and serrated bass sound twisting and turning among the chopped up and clipped vocals. The agile bassline of first track Rawl Aredo should not be forgotten either!

Does it all work?

Very much so. Spacek is ever inventive, and Houses works on a deeper level while providing energy through its beats. With four bonus tracks it clocks in at a generous 75 minutes, but thanks to Spacek’s subtly inventive ways through house music it never outstays its welcome.

Is it recommended?

Yes. If you’re a fan of Matthew Herbert’s house exploits you will find yourself close in style to Steve Spacek. Yet the application of his falsetto voice and the UK concessions bring individuality to Houses, in what turns out to be a really fine and invigorating album.

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