- For Argot's five-year compilation, American Dance Music Vol. 1, the label asked its artists to reflect on the scene by naming the challenges it faces. Among the answers: few clubs, no demand, high DJ fees, limited safe spaces. And the impression within the US that most dance music sounds like Diplo. In the shadow of America's pop factory and Europe's club industry, building a house and techno scene Stateside has always been hard. So you have to admire Argot for their commitment. Their records have come mostly from American artists, including Gunnar Haslam, Octo Octa and The Black Madonna, whose early EPs surfaced on the label. After five years of helping define the scene, American Dance Music Vol. 1 sounds like a celebration of it.
Bold Chicago-style tracks rule the compilation, with each artist turning their ideas in this direction. Take Philadelphia's Maxine & Cleo, whose other work for Argot, 2015's Mad Blanc, was mostly lush deep house. On "Imagine Yrself," he delivers a jack track that's way ruder, built on chunky rhythms and pitched-down moans. Throwing Shapes, the duo of of Rupert Murray and The Black Madonna, contribute "Heatstroke," the compilation's biggest techno ripper. Noncompliant is another Midwest veteran, who's recently returned to producing. Her track, "Femslash," is a loopy acid cut with a sense of humor (the vocal hook deadpans: "I like girls... a lot").
Still, the unrelenting good fun on American Dance Music Vol. 1 can also hinder it slightly. The collection is heavy on the jack and pretty straightforward, but Argot's actual catalog has a range of more nuanced American voices. Savile is one of these. His "Reality Is A Sound (Share Power Mix)" isn't as strong as anything on his last Argot EP, but it still has an irresistibly uplifting tone. Same goes for Olin's "2D Rhythm"—he's gone deeper elsewhere, but the momentum here is plenty hot. The raucousness doesn't stop until Hippie Priest, one of Argot's more leftfield artists, brings everything to a close. On "Dream Machine," soft ambience and woody clatters drift by like morning fog. More contrasts like this would have given the compilation an extra dimension. But as a collection of party tracks, American Dance Music Vol. 1 would slam anywhere.
01. Todd Osborn - 80s Are Here (Part 2)
02. Savile - Reality Is A Sound (Share Power Mix)
03. Maxine & Cleo - Imagine Yrself
04. Throwing Shapes - Heatstroke
05. Noncompliant - Femslash
06. Olin - 2D Rhythm
07. Alex Falk - Vines
08. Hippie Priest - Dream Machine