- Amid all the hand-wringing about the deep house revival, one thing is clear: There are innovators tweaking the formulaic to fascinating and personal ends. You just have to look around a bit to find them. DJ Koze, Lawrence, Efdemin are among just a few of the artists filtering the genre through their particular visions. And, over the past year and change, John Roberts has added his name to this list as well, crafting a sterling run of singles. Mirror, his third 12-inch and second for Dial, is yet another.
Roberts runs wild with the smooth organ and pianos that typify the genre, placing them inside three downbeat charmers that sound like little else around at the moment. "Mirror" is the most classically "house" production, opening up with the classic short/long organ riff, but as the track goes along you hear something different going on underneath—an unsettling rhythm that's produced by what seems to be two drumsticks being hit together. It's not quite offbeat—in fact it's often exactly in time—but it's at odds just enough to give the piece an organic feel.
The same goes for the queasy sea shanty house of "Maroon," whose cross-purpose percussion shouldn't work together—but very much does. Good luck mixing it into anything. (But isn't that the fun?) "Pruned," meanwhile, starts off the whistling revival—key: use reverb—in a plodding and funky tune that begs to end nights and soundtrack dreams. Slow and melancholic, it fits easily into Dial's catalogue without sounding like anything else. More brilliant stuff from one of the most promising young producers working today.