- By now you pretty much know what to expect from a full-length on Smallville: sleepy deep house that straddles a line between dance floor utility and comforting home listening. It's pretty much been that way ever since the label started, with Christopher Rau, Moomin and STL all contributing to its cuddly cannon up to now. Pulling the strings behind the scenes has been co-founder Julius Steinhoff. Now, he's stepping out on his own with his first solo LP.
Steinhoff is also one half of Smallpeople (along with Smallville's other co-founder, Just Von Ahlefeld), but on his own, he tends to go even deeper than that duo ever have. The results are what you might call proper deep house, or more correctly, proper European deep house, because there remains a subtle difference between Smallville and, say, Prescription: where Chez Damier and Ron Trent imbued their tracks with steamy spiritual soul, Steinhoff and co always plump for a more serene sense of smoothness.
As such, Flocking Behaviour is a sophisticated house LP, one doused in an ambient hue where every little detail has been fawned over, buffed up or polished so that it glows and radiates warmth. Every melody is just so, each 909 kick is palpably rubbery and the prickly percussion that litters each landscape is just sharp enough to standout, but not so textured as to ever grow harsh. "Where Days Begin" starts in stripped-back fashion, with a gentle pitter-patter of toms falling behind iced hi-hats as a globular bassline rides up and down below. From there, each track has its kicks slightly closer, its percussion more densely packed and its basslines increasingly spangled.
There will be little to surprise fans of the label along the way, but the gloopy goodness of cuts like "Under A Waterfall" or the trilling fairground melodies of "Hey You" will melt even the hardest hearts. Most tracks top eight minutes in length, but they never grow fatigued. Steinhoff is always layering in another supple synth lullaby, hiccupping drum kick or sumptuously synthetic pad to add another layer of depth. Flocking Behaviour is, if nothing else, a brain-soothing and soul-warming listen.
A1 Cheetah Nights
A2 Under A Waterfall
B2 All The Things You Are
C1 Flocking Behaviour
C2 Sun And Stars
D1 Hey You
D2 Where Days Begin