Various Artists - Vanguard Sound Vol. 1

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  • It's probably not a stretch to say that all dance labels bear the stamp of their proprietors. Hakim Murphy's Machining Dreams, the label accompaniment to his fine blog, is a textbook example of this tendency: in his own productions, Murphy sees classic Chicago house through his own sort of soft yet powerfully focused magnifying glass, and the other artists he's given over 12-inches to—Franco Cangelli and Steven Tang as Obsolete Music Technology—have taken a strikingly similar tack. The label's first split EP, Vanguard Sound Vol. 1, showcases not just one similarly tipped artist but a whole crew of them, and Vanguard Sound provide a pretty solid summation of the willingness of America's house music underground to get deep. Murphy himself takes the A1 slot with "Pulsate Phosphorus," a tidy spot of acid and scrubbed-clean percussion that's more or less routine for this producer. Though underground Chicago jock G. Marcell's Rhodes chords are hardly innovative, his athletic tempo and deft rhythmic interplay on "Excites Me" keeps the formula fresh (and undoubtedly right up Murphy's alley). Moving into darker territory on the flip, New York's DJ Spider, probably the best-known producer here save Murphy, evokes a particularly paranoid public access programming block on "Dystopia," a fitting title for such a strange trip. And Amir Alexander & Dakini9's keep things weird still, forsaking catchy melody but not funk on the deeply paranoid "Black Ops!" Though Underground Quality is the obvious touchstone here, Vanguard Sound skew left of that crew's peak time aspirations, quite a bit like Hakim Murphy himself.
  • Tracklist
      A1 Hakim Murphy - Pulsate Phosporus A2 G. Marcell - Excites Me B1 DJ Spider - Dystopia B2 Amir Alexander & Dakini9 - Black Ops