If ever there was an album to crush the argument against dance music being “soulless” or “lifeless”, then It’s You, It’s Me, the debut solo release from Kaskade, is essentially it. It may have been produced using the latest technological wizardry, but the formula of using live bass and vocals helps to give the sound an emotive feel that isn’t usually pronounced so richly in mainstream house music. It’s both jazzy and beautifully melodic, and should be in every dance music fans collection for the summer months to come and beyond. Simple as that.
Kaskade, born Ryan Raddon, grew up in Chicago, which is usually lauded as the birthplace of house music. His production talents remained dormant whilst he DJed for some years in Salt Lake City before moving on to OM Records to help with production. A bit of cheeky self-promoting within OM saw Kaskade secure a three-album deal that should be greeted with whoops of delight, since the dance industry can only be improved by the inclusion of such a melodically inspired talent.
OM records themselves have long been the purveyors of any music that challenges the rules of its genre, be it house, acid jazz, or straight-up hip-hop. Artists such as Mark Farina and King Britt are just a few of the many successes that have come out of this exciting and innovative US dance label. OM is generally seen in the dance world as a breeding ground for this diverse, and enthralling talent and long may that continue, since their music policy seems to revolve around decent melody and sublime production values.
So, It’s You, It’s Me has already been generally heaped with praise, yet does it stand up to close scrutiny? In fact, it is far more varied than the label of “deep house” can give it credit for and features soul-garage, downtempo, and some uplifting house to boot. Such musical variety allows the album to appeal both to the discerning bedroom listener and also to the dance-floor groover with consummate ease.
The first track, “Meditation to the Groove”, really sets the deep-house agenda with a funky electric bass line and the sultry vocal talents of Joslyn. It provides both a varied and strangely hypnotising listen. The next track, “Feel Like”, begins in similar fashion, but throws in some dextrous muted-trumpet ramblings to add depth and class. Indeed these two adjectives seem to resonate throughout the production values of Kaskade and his supporting vocalists.
Other highlights include, “What I Say”, a chilled-out, jazzy number that is driven forward by the glorious vocal talent of Rob Wannamaker. Also of note is “This Rhythm”, which displays the ability of Kaskade to transcend genres into more soulful, syncopated beat territory. It is a breath of fresh air and is definitely a track to sit back and relax to.
If faults have to be unearthed, then “Mak Mop” is one track that is definitely an interlude and seems strangely dark and out of place. Also, “Tonight” doesn’t seem to go anywhere as it fails to provide an addictive chorus and seems as if Kaskade is running through the motions ever so slightly.
All in all, this is a must-buy package for those who enjoy their house just that little bit deeper, soulful and downright melodic. This album will go far in 2003 within the dance scene, since it hits the all-important factors of melody and appealing hooks right on the nail. The UK house following would do well to take some tips from Kaskade’s style, as it seems he is going to be leading the deep-house scene down the right path for the foreseeable future. A true electronica classic in the making.
// Notes from the Road
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