- Smallville Records has made itself one of the most notable brands in electronic music over the last decade. Between Stefan Marx's iconic artwork and a reliable roster, the Hamburg label is readily identifiable and consistently engaging in its craft of dazzling deep house. Now, to celebrate ten years of operations, they've put together Smallville Ways, a compilation featuring a number of core artists and a few fresh faces.
Smallville Ways is designed to showcase the label's patented house grooves. For the most part, the vets turn in precisely the deep-of-night jams we've come to expect. Christopher Rau opens "RG En La Casa" with bird sounds before diving into one of his strobe-lit grooves, while longtime associate STL's "Leaving Peaceful" moves from waves breaking on the shore into a heady pulse of ticking percussion and synth bursts. Raising the tempo a bit, the throbbing disco strut of Moomin's "I Whisper A Prayer" is one of the funkiest, most glamorous inclusions. Likewise, label founders Dionne and Julius Steinhoff turn in "Cricket Orchestra" as Smallpeople. It's a slick bit of first-dawn house that seems to hold shadowy figures in its corners. Lawrence does his thing with swirling pads and oil-slick melodies on "Dawn 808." One of the most interesting contributions comes from L'Amour Fou: the collaboration between Move D, Marco Wollenberg and Benoit Bouquin shows up with the silky bounce of "Da'an."
As for newcomers to the label, they prove equally agile with tracing that Smallville niche. Kornél Kovács stars with the aptly titled astral boogie of "Space Jam," probably the compilation's most enjoyable track. Juniper, a UK duo with one Smallville release to date, twitch with nervous tension on "Variations In Gray," their buzzy synth trembling with anxiety. Tilman Tausendfreud, who has history with both Smallpeople and Christopher Rau, closes the compilation with "A Man Under The Influence." The sky-gazing house track's slurred, drawn-out vocal samples make for a dizzying complement to its downy synths. Like its predecessor, 2009's And Suddenly It's Morning, Smallville Ways is satisfying top to bottom and emblematic of the label's rich, singular history.
01. STL - Leaving Peaceful
02. Christopher Rau - RG En El Casa
03. Moomin - I Whisper A Prayer
04. Kornél Kovacs - Space Jam
05. Smallpeople - Cricket Orchestra
06. L'Amour Fou - Da'an
07. Jacques Bon - Tribute To You
08. Lawrence - Dawn 808
09. Juniper - Variations In Grey
10. Rvds & Rau - Umbé Data
11. Tilman Tausendfreund - A Man Under The Influence