Various Artists – House Masters: David Penn (Defected)
reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
Spanish DJ David Penn gets this very welcome career retrospective from Defected, a chance for fans to appreciate not just his original, Latin-flavoured house tunes and his teamwork with DJ Chus, but a whole host of remixes. Penn has in the past bravely taken on classics like Pete Heller’s Big Love and Sophie Lloyd’s Calling Out, but as this collection shows he always comes out on top.
What’s the music like?
Excellent, and brimming with good vibes. The original productions include Penn’s uplifting Nobody, which sets the tone from the off, but also What Is House, with Rober Gaez, and Stand Up, a piano-led, gospel-tinged winner with Ramona Renea. The collection has a really good ebb and flow between these productions and Penn’s remixes, so early on we get the rolling beats and bass of Jack Back’s (It Happens) Sometimes and a brilliant take on Candi Staton’s Hallelujah Anyway, smooth as silk in the production but still hitting the essence of the song. Later on the same can be said for Ron Hall & The Muthafunkaz‘ The Way You Love Me, which Penn treats just right, and also Todd Terry’s Babarabatiri, which plays right into his Latino strengths.
Speaking of which, Penn’s El Sur, with Jabato, is a highlight later on – as is Esperenza, the long-established anthem made with regular sparring partner DJ Chus. Both appear later with a remix of Lenny Fontana’s The Way, before teaming up with Concha Buika to bring the house down on Will I (Discover Love).
Does it all work?
Yes. Penn’s remixing style is uncomplicated – which is an underrated quality, because it means the quality of the original still shines through in spite of the new clothing. The Mediterranean warmth is ever-present in his own productions, which flow beautifully and are consistently classy. A good piano riff is rarely far away from a David Penn production!
Is it recommended?
Yes. It’s great to see Penn getting the spotlight in this way, and he deserves his place alongside the hall of fame Defected have built up in their House Masters series. He understands what makes house music work so well in the hotter European climes, and this compilation shows off his output beautifully.
You can buy David Penn’s House Masters compilation from the Defected website here