“What goes around, will come around and come back and get ya!" prophesised Haze back in 2011 on the release of his and Noir's underground House hit 'Around'. Three years later and, in the context of house music’s place in popular culture, they were accurate in their prediction. In terms of the quality of the music currently being produced, house is undoubtedly in its rudest health in years and this is what Azuli has set out to capture.
With a heritage stretching back to 1991, Azuli thoroughly earned its reputation for releasing house music of genuine quality and the popularity of its compilation albums was built on the label’s ability to capture the music of the moment – be it the biggest records on the scene or evidence of a willingness to dig a little deeper. With Deep House Anthems, Azuli continues this fine tradition.
It’s fair to say the terms ‘deep house’ and ‘anthems’ make awkward bedfellows but in this case it’s not an oxymoron. The idea comes from a desire to produce a compendium of absolutely no-nonsense tracks, underlining the scene’s strength in depth whilst avoiding the obvious phoneys or cash-ins, and where unashamed big bassline party-starters can happily rub shoulders with trackier tech-influenced numbers.
Here, Azuli has compiled its very own A-list of deep house with all the key movers and shakers that define this new era in dance music’s popularity fully represented. Nu-school house hits such as Breach's 'Jack', Hot Natured's 'Benediction', the Dennis Ferrer mix of Nick Curly’s ‘Underground’, Flashmob's 'Need In Me' and Disclosure's 'My Intention Is War (Fig ii)' sit alongside established records in the deep house scene - some of the building blocks that form the foundations of the current resurgence - such as Dennis Ferrer 'Hey Hey', Metro Area 'Miura', Chicken Lips 'He Not In' and Ame 'Rej' in capturing the essence of an underground scene that has built astonishing success over the last three years or so.
Here’s Azuli’s guide to Deep House in 22 anthemic moments that have stood the test of time, all of which are included on this new collection.
Noir & Haze - Around (Solomun Vox) The breakout record that arguably defines both Noir and Solomun’s careers to date. Solomun’s remix was undoubtedly one of the biggest records of 2011, getting played everywhere from the warehouses of Hackney to Pacha Ibiza. Its creeping, building, almost sinister riff was perfectly offset by that unforgettably enticing hook and the Haze vocal gave made it one of deep house’s biggest ‘hits’.
Osunlade - Envision (Argy Vocal Mix) Some might say the Dixon or Ame mixes were the standouts from this release, but Argy’s vocal takes things into classic mid 90’s new York-esque territory with its garage bassline, and looped vocal intro… the essence of a big deep house record of the last few years.
4th Measure Men - 4 You (Maya Jane Coles Remix) Again there’s no doubting how the scene has been inspired by the productions of earlier generations. The re-release of ‘4 You’ was a milestone in the Marc Kinchen renaissance and a highlight in the production career Maya Jane Coles. When toying with a classic track, you always run the risk of doing the original a disservice but one of the factors behind house music’s success of late is how quality producers have managed to revisit a track and bring it back to a whole new audience.
Chez Damier - Can You Feel It (New York Dub) A legendary figure in electronic music, Detroit’s Chez Damier has played close witness to many of the pivotal moments in the history of house and techno. ‘Can You Feel It’ stands up against every house record ever made – as you would expect coming from the Underground Resistance production camp. Here MK’s, hard-hitting New York Dub is without a doubt a stone cold classic that still sounds as fresh as ever.
Âme - Rej German imprint Innervisions has grown from strength to strength throughout the years but one of the tracks instrumental in its birth was ‘Rej’. Ame’s track was the second release on the label, its tantalising strings and brooding minimalism grew to become timeless and omnipresent in clubs for years to come.
Yousef - Beg (Hot Since 82 Future Remix) A Beatport chart topper, Hot Since 82 unleashed a hefty dose of low-end thump on his effortlessly chic reinterpretation of Yousef’s driving, groove-led ‘Beg’, in the process forging a reputation as one of house music’s hottest contemporary producers. Since then the Leeds based producer has only grown in stature by releasing his debut album ‘Little Black Book’ on Moda Black and the Beatport #1 remix of Green Velvet’s ‘Bigger Than Prince’ as well putting together a well-received BBC1 Essential Mix.
Tube & Berger - Imprint Of Pleasure Released on Suara, ‘Imprint Of Pleasure’ was a monumental anthem last year for German duo Tube & Berger. It stormed the tech house charts where it snatched the #1 position and proceeded to hold on to it for longer than any other track in 2013.
Roy Davis Jr. feat. Peven Everett ‘Gabriel’ (Live Garage Mix) Roy Davis Jr., the mind behind legendary production company Phuture, has been a stalwart of the house genre ever since the late-80s. Responsible for a series titled ‘Archangel’, which dedicated each track to a particular angel, Davis Jr. released an early house-garage hybrid named ‘Gabriel’ in 1997 which emits soulful vibes and jazzy themes throughout.
Jamie Jones - Summertime Jamie Jones is an artist who more than most has been responsible for the rise of the Deep House underground. Described by Resident Advisor as the “trippy, hypnotic anthem” of Miami WMC 2009, ‘Summertime’ was released on Crosstown Rebels shortly before the producer teamed up with Lee Foss to forge popular Deep House imprint Hot Creations. The track won the title of DJ Mag’s Best of British Best Dance Single and therefore marked the turning point in Jones’ career as he evolved from rising star to superstar.
Breach - Jack Released on Dirtybird, ‘Jack’ was one of 2013’s most phenomenal house tracks as it shot into the UK Charts at #9 displaying its tremendous crossover appeal complete with and an unforgettable music video. Ben Westbeech employs his own (heavily FX’d) vocals to the track to create a catchy hook which was instrumental in the tracks commercial success.
Green Velvet - Bigger Than Prince (Hot Since 82 Remix) Following on from ‘Beg’, Daley Padley’s rendition of ‘Bigger Than Prince’ was such a seminal hit it led to festivals and raves becoming swamped with T-shirts sporting the vocals. Its bouncy nature and fat bassline companied with edited, off pitched vocals saw the track sit comfortably at the top of the Beatport Top 100 and become an integral ingredient to many a house DJs set.
Ten Walls - Gotham The Innervisions camp has gone from strength to strength this year but a particular milestone was ‘Gotham’ which was released mid-summer and was soon heard everywhere on the White Isle. Many refer to ‘Gotham’ as the soundtrack of 2013’s Movement Festival in Detroit and Sónar in Barcelona, and its immense popularity has seen it easily become the labels biggest hit of the year.
Huxley - Let It Go With Huxley making an illustrious mark in the house scene in 2011, it was 2012 which saw him truly take off. The likes of his ‘Out Of The Box EP’ on 2020Vision and ‘No Matter What EP’ on Tsuba were all highly praised pieces of work, but it was the British producers Hypercolour release in February titled ‘Let It Go’ which started the ball rolling. The track features soulful vocals and prominent hats in a demonstration of Huxley’s garage-led musical upbringing, a sound which became huge in the deep house movement.
Nick Curly - Underground (Dennis Ferrer Remix) Dennis Ferrer isn’t known as a prolific remixer – he’s never really needed to be one – but his mix of Underground represented a magnificent achievement in 2012. Developing the chords of the original with a devastatingly infectious organ lead-line, Ferrer built and built the tension before unleashing huge, pounding keys for a truly breathless finale.
Flashmob - Need In Me An enormous hit from the Italian duo, its beautifully swung hats make way for an anthemic hook and one of the most soulful vocal climaxes heard in a house production in recent years. Danny and Alessandro are two of the most enthusiastic artists when it comes to quality house productions and this one was released perfectly in time for the summer where it was heard in every Ibizan club worth going to.
Maceo Plex & Jon DaSilva feat. Joi Cardwell - Love Somebody Based on a Colourblind cover of a Jones Girls disco staple, ‘Love Somebody’ is the result of Maceo Plex and legendary hacienda DJ Jon DaSilva teaming up to reproduce the entire song whilst providing a more melodic interpretation. With the assistance of sensational house singer Joi Cardwell, the track successfully merges disco hedonism and modern house groove in beautifully euphoric synergy.
Route 94 - Tell You Why Mysteriously emerging in 2012 with the support of Skream, Benga and New York Transit Authority, Route 94 has since grown to become an in-demand artist whose future success seems to be set in stone. His inaugural 4-track EP ‘Fly 4 Life’ was released on the producer’s self-titled label and features ‘Tell You Why’, a track driven by a fuzzy bassline and Jess Glyne’s catchy vocals which was featured on ‘Annie Mac presents 2013’.
Larse - So Long Dortmund –based DJ/ producer Larse is no stranger to soulful vocal cuts and this release on Noir Music is exemplary of just that. ‘So Long’ was released back in 2011, its catchy straight-forward vocals making the track more accessible to a widespread audience much like many other releases at the time and this was demonstrated in how it made its way into the Beatport Top 10.
Finnebassen - Touching Me Finnebassen has long been praised for his poignant house productions upon starting his career producing the genre in 2008, with tracks such as ‘If You Only Knew’ and ‘You’re Not Cool Enough’ all reflective of his imaginative production talents. ‘Touching Me’ contains that overpowering emotional vibe signature to the Norwegian house producer and its success saw it top Beatport’s Deep House chart as well as see support from the likes of industry tastemaker Pete Tong who played it on his Radio 1 ‘Wonderments’ section.
Metro Area - Miura Metro Area is the pseudonym of Darshan Jesrani and Morgan Geist, two renowned producers in their own right, but whose collaborative minds make for a force to be reckoned with. Released back in 2001, ‘Miura’ was so sought after that it achieved sales of close to 20,000 vinyl copies and was voted #1 in Resident Advisor’s Top 100 tracks of 2000-2009.
Bicep - Vision Of Love Starting out with Feel My Bicep, a blog run by two fanatic who live and breathe house music, the duo went on to become a highly regarded DJs and 2012 saw them initiate their record imprint of the same name with ‘Vision Of Love’ kick starting it into action. Originally only released on vinyl, the track soon became a seminal release for Bicep who have since grown to become a promising production team in their own right.
Dennis Ferrer - Hey Hey (DF’s Attention Vocal Mix) Ferrer’s longstanding history within the house scene since the late-80s means his eclectic array of production techniques are unrivalled by his peers. One of the biggest dance tracks of 2010 and a favourite of many a self-respecting house DJ.