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V/A - And Suddenly It's Morning


‘And Suddenly its Morning’ is a compilation of vinyl releases from German deep and minimal house label Smallville.  Given the label’s roots in Lawrence and Julius Steinhoff’s ultra-trendy record shop of the same name, it should come as no surprise that Smallville releases have, in the past couple years, found their way into the record boxes (physical or virtual) of any number of trend-making DJs.  Though there’s scant new material for Smallville aficionados, it is a great introduction to the label for the uninitiated.

One strength of the compilation is that, unlike most others, there are no out-and-out bad tracks.  Many, in fact, are quite memorable. “Touch,” by Steinhoff and Hamouda with Dionne is minimal house in a refreshingly old-fashioned way. Understated, rhythmic bells and piano stabs sit over a slowly evolving, Chicago-style drum pattern, eventually settling into a deep, sultry groove layered with subtle vocals and ambient pads. “Our Life with the Wave” by Dimi Angelis & Jeroen Search is deep house with a bit of Detroit kick.  It has a “star-searching soul” feel that should appeal to fans of Sean Deason and Metroplex’s later output.  Steinhoff’s “Me and You Dub” is a thoroughly house take on the dub concept.  Sexy and mysterious, the track plays with the listener, only introducing the four-on-the-floor kick pattern more than halfway through the track. STL’s “Neurotransmiting Clouds on the Secret Freeway” is pleasantly reminiscent of Alexi Delano’s 1990s output for Svek and others.   

Perhaps the compilation’s best moment comes from one of its techno entries: “In the Beginning” by Move D & Benjamin Brunn.  Featuring fantastic filtered-stabs-over-shuffle and slightly detuned bass, “In the Beginning” marries Kompakt shuffle-funk to the sprawling Canadian landscapes of early Plus 8. Lawrence’s “Don’t Forget” is another standout track, marked by deep dub chords and bass.  What’s more, “Don’t Forget” has both a sense of restraint and great pacing, which are essential for any successful minimal track.  Sprightly melodies enter and exit with grace.   

While there is nothing bad on the album per se, that does not mean it’s consistently terrific either.  Steinhoff’s “Something like Wonderful” is a pleasant but forgettable after-hours groove.  Similarly, Sven Tasnadi’s “Winter” is solid minimal, but doesn’t stand out from the pack either.  Christopher Rau’s “Childhood” introduces two melodies that twist together in an appealing polyrhythm, but the track fails to fully develop. “Cloverleaf Days” by Bon & Rau centers on a cascading, harp-like sample that is pleasant in and of itself, but is repeated so often that it quickly grows annoying. 

At the end of the day, ‘And Suddenly its Morning’ will appeal to most fans of deep and minimal house.  When it’s good, it’s quite good; when it’s bad, it’s still not that bad.  Most tracks on the compilation would do well at the beginning or end of a long night, on a dancefloor, in the home or accompanying a long drive.  As such, it’s no surprise that people like Marcel Dettmann, Jeff Samuel and Richie Hawtin are all trumpeting Smallville releases. 

Gustav Brown

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