[20 October 2011]
It’s no mystery that the folks at Dial Records feel forever in the debt of deep, languid Chicago house, even though their artists distinguish themselves from this heritage culture in sharp and methodical ways on their own records. The Dial sub-label Laid then is the terminus where these artists can explore their fetish-like obsession with this music with a lavish shamelessness. The Laid Compilation, though, shows why this indulgence is not an exhaustive exercise when these particular artists participate in it. Hypnotic and elegant cuts like Lowtec’s “Use Me” and Rick Wade’s “Ricky’s Groove” showcase why classic albums like Virgo Four’s Virgo still resonate. There is a bit of branching out too; the funky rhythms and swing of Marcello Napoletano’s “Electronic Atmosphere” touch on the garage work of Masters at Work, while Kassem Mosse’s brilliant “Untitled” undulates wildly in techno gait like an early Mathew Johnson track before wandering to a handful of other destinations. It’s a mild breech into stylistic sub-patterns, but the Laid artists assert exactly what the Dial artists do—a timelessness in their staid and restrained grooves. As per always, the production is above par and even the most critical of Dial’s approach will find little to critique in the sound design here. If there’s fault to be found, it’s in the fact that the Laid label seems to be a kind of vanity project, a formulary proof to show that acts like Lawrence and Black Jazz Consortium can make music that’s both soulful and reverent, but not derivative. I’m just not sure this was ever in question.