Riva Starr - Definition Of Sound

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  • Riva Starr's 2010 album, If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade, featured a cover of Mr. Fingers' "Can You Feel It," called "Tribute." The London-based Italian has since released a number of tracks that weren't strictly covers, but were so obvious with their samples and unimaginative with their beats that they might as well have been. He's also collaborated with some of his biggest influences: DJ Sneak for "In Da House Tonight," Fatboy Slim for the tongue-in-cheek "Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat" and Green Velvet on electro-house cut "Robots." Now, Stefano Miele teams with Chicago's iconic Cajual label for his third Riva Starr album, which features a list of guests including DJ Pierre and Gene Farris. The lineup on Definition Of Sound looks ripped from the '90s, and its music is no different. Miele's collaborators give him their stamp of authenticity, if not their best work. DJ Pierre's 303 gurgle on "Acid Train" is as typical as its title, and "You're Beating" irons out Green Velvet's usual twisted edge. If Farris's vocal on "After Dark" sounds like he's speaking over a dodgy mobile signal, the beat sounds just as phoned in. Better are the tracks with Dajaé, the Chicago diva who graced '90s Cajual records like "Brighter Days." Over the bass wobbles of "In The Midnight Hour," she wards off those getting between "me and my man" with her steely cool. The way she hollers "ain't no party like a house party" somehow isn't the most clichéd thing about "The Loft." For that single, Miele pulls out blatant tricks from the classic house playbook—string stabs, drum rolls, filtered loops. He's so shameless in his homage that it's almost admirable. There's a reason those sounds are well-worn: they're guaranteed to do the job. Definition Of Sound is basically a collection of big, crowd-pleasing bangers. Miele occasionally switches from the raucous energy to, say, the doleful piano of "Without You" or the darker "Count On Me," but mostly relies on hefty dance floor fillip, like the sirens of "I Can See The Light" and "Superfly"'s tribal roll. Those tracks are undoubtedly effective in a club, but they ultimately sound uninspired—any sense of fun is replaced with dull familiarity after a couple spins. Definition Of Sound isn't pure cheese exactly, but it does smell a bit past its sell-by date.
  • Tracklist
      01. In The Midnight Hour 02. Can You Feel Sunshine 03. You're Beating feat. Green Velvet 04. Without You 05. Superfly 06. Count On Me 07. I Can See The Light 08. I Believe In You 09. The Loft feat. Dajaé 10. Acid Train feat. DJ Pierre 11. After Dark (Is When We Move) feat. Gene Farris