Of course, there’s an enormous amount of great music that couldn’t have been featured in this article. As a medium dominated by singles, a huge number of rewarding, thoughtful house tracks have never seen release on LP format, while many more saw the light of day outside of this article’s five year remit. As a result, I’ve put together a playlist of slow, largely melancholic house tracks more suitable for meditation than the dancefloor. Granted, some of these are club-ready, but the crucial feeling of longing remains. To put it simply, in the world of DJing, these would all be closers. It should also be noted that this list, as with the above, is in no way exhaustive, but rather a selection of the songs that helped formulate the thoughts explored in the article.
A few labels here make an appearance who certainly deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the featured artists. Berlin’s Workshop imprint is a constant source of quality, here represented on two untitled tracks, Even Tuell & Midnightopera’s mournful, unhurried collaboration and Lowtec’s snappy burner which takes a turn for the melancholic with some soft pads halfway through its runtime. As with the albums, one of the watchwords here is patience, as Pepe Bradock turns a rousing string sample into a veritable anthem on Deep Burnt, while DJ Sprinkles manages to conjure an astonishing range of emotions, from threat to fear to bliss, in her epic reworking of June’s Lost Area.
Negative space is also a key feature, used like a weapon on Trevor Deep Jr’s soulful, dubby Keep On! Meanwhile Huerco S. and Terreke conjure deep feeling from near-beatless expanses of space, while MGUN and Kevin McPhee show how the yearning can take hold even in a gritty, lofi soundfield. The odd ones out are here represented by Soul Capsule’s classic Lady Science (NYC Sunrise Mix), which emotes powerfully despite its angular rhythmic skeleton, and Chicago, where bass-experimentalists Old Apparatus subject a mournful piano line to rattles, rain sounds and an ominous whirring.
It’s clear that the dance sound this article has been chasing – haunted by words like reserve, patience, melancholy, yearning – may be largely found in the domain of German deep house, but is in no way unique to it. Any song that doesn’t invigorate your daily routine, but makes you stop, think, question and feel is welcome to the fold.
These songs show a side of dance music where the listener contributes his own narrative rather than being funnelled into a particular feeling by overt emotional cues. They focus us and fine-tune our sensitivity to the world around us. Taking a walk on a grey day listening to deep house can help you connect with, rather than escape, your drab surroundings, and perhaps even see beauty which would otherwise go unnoticed.
Club music is justly adored for its ability to turn the dancer into a conduit, taking in a musical stimulus and releasing it as physical, synchronised energy. Yet deep house allows us to commune with ourselves in a softer, more thoughtful way. It’s why so many of us have, in deep house, found a home.
1. Huerco S – Battery Tunnel
2. Terekke – Amaze
3. Austin Cesear – Slink
4. Even Tuell & Midnightopera – Untitled B2
5. Arnaldo – A Song Name Of One Word
6. Kevin McPhee – Who Loves You
7. MGUN – Mask
8. Lowtec – Untitled
9. Pepe Bradock – Deep Burnt
10. Funkycan – CGN-GZT
11. Kadebostan & Laolu – Salome (Kadebostan Version)
12. Trevor Deep Jr – Keep On!
13. Soul Capsule – Lady Science (NYC Sunrise Mix)
14. System 360 – Untitled
15. June – Lost Area (Sprinkles’ Lost Dancefloor, Org. Ver.)
16. Old Apparatus – Chicago
17. Carsten Jost – Love
18. Efdemin – There Will Be Singing
19. Vril – Torus XXXII
20. Efdemin – Some Kind Of Up And Down Yes (Asusu Remix)
CONTINUE READINGDeep House