Larry Cadge's label mark a decade in the game with a pleasingly varied best-of collection
Tech-house is formulaic and boring and all sounds the same. Or at least, so the received wisdom in some circles would have you believe.
The trouble with received wisdom, of course, is that it works remarkably well as a synonym for "parroting the fashionable opinions of others". Yes, tech-house's dancefloor dominance over the past 10 years ago has led, inevitably, to a deluge of half-arsed soundalike tracks with the emphasis on Pavlovian, lost common denominator musical tropes (the extended snare roll, for instance). Tech-house is no different, in that regard, from trance, UK garage or big beat before it – or any other popular music style that's found itself facing "Man Utd syndrome".
But there's still plenty of fresh, exciting music being made that could safely be described as "tech-house"– while, in the real world, there's really no reason why a genre that's essentially "supposed" to combine the funk and groove of house with the uncompromising energy of techno should ever need run out of ideas! All of which is a long-winded way of saying that this 10-year best of collection from Larry Cadge's Smiley Fingers – a label very closely associated with the tech-house boom of the past decade – is a cracker.
The album opens with Andre Salmon & Chris C's spooky, trippy The Black Oz; that's followed by the sleazy disco-tech grind of Andrea Arcangeli & FK Anyway's Bimbou with its distinctive looping vocal, and already you can tell that any worries you may have had about "same-iness" here were unfounded. That's not to say there aren't plenty of examples of archetypal 2010s-style tech-house on offer, complete with oompah-loompah beats, hip-house vocal snips, hints of Balkan swing and other popular sounds that have come and gone over the past decade – it's just that there's enough else going on, from the squelchy techno of Pete Gooding's This Music to Lars Mosten & Malente's filtered soulful workout For Me, to ensure things never get dull.
It all adds up to a very checkable collection from an always eminently chekable label. Here's to another 10 years.
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: Out now
Review Score: 8