Album Review: Talking House Volume One - Various Artists

Talking House Volume One

I'm off to Stockholm on (what I'd say is) a well-earned holiday the week after next so when this new label compilation from the city's Local Talk label I was keen to check out what the city might sound like when I get there.

Turns out if this album is anything to go by then I should like Stockholm just fine. Local Talk specialise in classic House music and whilst there has been a significant movement back to the classic late-eighties / early-nineties House sound I've not heard any labels that encapsulate and focus on that sound quite this well.

Whilst there are no big name DJs here, Local Talk's releases have had support from DJ Sneak, Deetron and Steve Bug amongst others and there's plenty here that would add some cool to a house set.

Talking House is a label album so in my view that almost always guarantees a few duff tracks and there are admittedly a couple of moments that drop the pace. Dirtytwo's Moody is too long and not enough happens, for example. On the whole though it's a surprisingly consistent set.

The inspiration for some of the material is often quite clear - Andreas Saag's Back To Life recalling Strings Of Life's synth strings and Mateo & Matos' MAW Basics clearly a tribute to Masters At Work - but that love for the sound is actually somewhat endearing.

There are a raft of stand-out moments. The snappy disco-influenced First Time House from Fulbert is encircled is string samples and layered filtered samples in a way that spans genres and feels classic but fresh, almost Germanic in approach. Heart Attack by Tanzlife drops a string orchestra in the break and combines it with some vocal sample pitch manipulation to create a track the skirts a less authentic style of house but it's hard not to raise a smile listening to it.

Best of all are the two tracks that mark the end of the first and second halves of the album. Mid-way through, Kyodai's Breaking is a jazzy track complete with imperfect, scattershot drumming that gives the track a wonderfully alive, engaging sound. The album ends on Local Talk's first release and crossover anthem Moon Shadow from Bassfort. It's a track that builds from a locked minimal groove into an unexpectedly maximal piano House track, moving from clinically placed beats to big warm keyboard melodies.

They may occasionally stray into more commercial territory but Local Talk have a good thing going on here. I'm looking forward to checking out Stockholm all the more for hearing it!