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Various Artists, Groove Radio Presents House Grooves (Nettwerk America)
House Grooves sounds like a night at Bedrock, Fabric or any of the "better" house nights in the UK. As such, it is competent, miles more entertaining than eurotrance or hard house horrors but, to me, soulless and, increasingly, the fag-end of a music that is running out of steam. Dark, tribal, nu-progressive, call it what you like and (despite the mainstream dancemags' continuing championing of the artists) it all sounds a little stale and formulaic. Still, I'm in the minority and many will slaver and slobber at the very mention of Tino Maas, Ashley Beedle, Harry Romero, Felix Da Housecat, FC Kahuna, Layo, and Bushwacka -- all represented and representative of the "quality" house ethos. The tunes are familiar, the mixes less so -- which is sensible -- and there is an energy and a big room feel that has a certain grandeur. Maas's "Shifter", and Layo and Bushwacka's "Love Story" are typical. Tight, well-produced and undoubtedly driven by more than mere commerce, they will find a ready audience. But, oh for some genuine innovation, instrumental subtlety, or even some old-style funkiness.