Ah, Detroit and Chicago – two cities whose reputations have a special place being focal points for the proliferation and advancement of dance music. Arguably they birthed the styles and templates many artists still strive to replicate in present day.
That’s why I was not surprised to find myself digging all the releases thus far on Jordan Fields and Larry Heard’s semi-mysterious and entirely satisfying imprint Descendants of the Deep. The limited vinyl-only label and it’s subsequent releases (From Chicago to Detroit Volumes 1 & 2) were established around this time last year. The label has been largely dormant since that time, until October 2016 when From Chicago to Detroit Vol. 3 started very quietly popping up in various good and honest record outlets around the world. I purchased mine from a seller in New York City.
The record has five cuts, with a white label on one side and an awesome vintage boogie-down Bronx b-boy boombox flick on the flip. What’s so tangibly solid about the EP is it’s strict adherence to the sound of the cities that lend their names in the title.
A-1 leads off with “Your Love” – a deliciously deep cut from Giles Dickerson; one could easily close their eyes and imagine blaring in the basement of Smart Bar. A warm and filtered decaying pad crashes every four measures to set the tone while processed guitar and a soulful vocal loop keep rhythm. Slightly squared 808 kicks and a hi-hat double up to make this a perfect party-groover for those cold winter nights coming.
A-2 transports us a few hundred miles east to the Motor City. A tune true to his nature, Jordan Fields brings a more up front vibe with “I Feel Loved”. Rigid sequencing and layering perfectly compliment a jackhammer kick snare pattern. A squelchy and heavily delayed vocal sample is made to dance around tight piano stabs and an encouraging bassline that demands movement of the feet. This one is a jackin’ number that if played at the right time will keep the dancefloor’s full attention.
Over to B-1, things stay high energy with “Free” – a serious drum machine number from Ed Nine. Chord stabs, infectious arps, eighth note open hi-hats, snare rolls, and of course the old reliable wood block. This is the tune of the release for me almost purely because of its very primal and precise drum shaping and sequencing. I think it’s a wonderful example of why drum machines work so fantastically well for not only techno, but house music too.
Things deepen up heavily on B-2. Jordan Fields re-edits Jaime Read’s “The Rise” for jazzy lounge affairs and strung out sunrise after parties. Lush pads slink back and forth while a very Juno-esque bass keeps interest with short hits before reverb and decay laden jazz scales come in, locking listeners in a daze. Splendid stuff, really.
Jordan Fields again offers a re-edit for B-3, this time of Deep88s “Test 1”. I also love this track because it strikes the perfect match between deep filtered pads that are mostly dreamy with a very danceable drum pattern and chunky bass hits. All the percussion comes out and the track breathes before diving back into a peak hour groove. It’s a great tool for waking up the party when things get a bit too deep.
Being a limited release you’ll be lucky to find a copy but there are still some available for $11. You shouldn’t mind though because the release is solid the whole way through and likely not a single cut will go unplayed. The releases seem to be coming in bursts of two, so Volume 4 is also out now for those who are hungry for more Chicago/Detroit tunes (and Volume 2 has a single copy for $5 currently on Discogs).
Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.