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Kikumoto Allstars House Music Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

An accomplished albeit resolutely unoriginal debut.

Chris Power 2009

If Australian producer Cam Farrar has a musical year zero then it's 1986. That's when Mr Fingers' trancey Washing Machine track inspired a house offshoot – acid – that renounced vocal-led jack house in favour of foregrounding the form's synthetic and hypnotic elements. That Farrar is a passionate and knowledgeable disciple of this chapter in house music's history is something his accomplished albeit resolutely unoriginal debut album makes plain.

The trouble with taking pastiche to these extremes – homage house, anyone? – is that when cued up alongside their forebears some tracks on House Music come off sounding distinctly inferior. This problem is clearly illustrated by Still Can't Stop the House, an update of Thompson & Lenoir's 1987 track Can't Stop The House. Farrar’s production is slick; a fuzzily analogue synth line percolating alongside a propulsive hi-hat pattern. Fi-B Haven's vocal, however, falls flat: presumably aiming for coolly disinterested, she just sounds bored.

Similarly, if you have any Mike Dunn or Tyree in your collection then jacking tracks like Everybody and I'll Make You Jack might seem redundant. Far better are the relentlessly repetitive arpeggios and blissful, seething breakdowns of DCO, the melancholy drift of the heavily Mr Fingers-indebted Last Train to Chi-Town and the superb mid-tempo summer's day lope of Sagittarius, which is Jeffersonian (as in Marshall) from its flanged synths down to its stuttering drum-fills.

On moments like these House Music transcends the massive debt it owes to the past by being redolent of an era without being directly reminiscent of extant tracks. The brooding Shed 13 pulls off the same trick, its hoover bass and plunging stabs transporting you to a warehouse in 1990 without calling a specific record to mind. By contrast, Just A Feelin so nearly is Inner City's Good Life that your memory can't help but mix in the vocal from the Kevin Saunderson classic.

Farrar is clearly a gifted producer, and certain sections of House Music are well worth hearing. It's only when he makes the mistake of straying too close to the early house classics from which he draws inspiration that his own work suffers by comparison.

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