VA: Deep Sensations II

Deep Sensation II won't likely win NRK too many awards for innovation but it certainly will give deep house devotees a good many hours of listening pleasure. Now in its twelfth year of operation, the British imprint believes that collections such as Deep Sensation II help put the label's catalogue in some sort of current context—in this case by assembling a disc of 2008 highlights that combines long-standing artists (Nick Holder, Miguel Migs, Joey Negro, Foremost Poets) with rising stars (Osborne, Will Saul, Scope, Chymera). Mixed by Nick Harris, the release stokes a consistent, smooth flow for seventy-five minutes, starting with the opening salvo, Saul and Tam Cooper's lush “ambient” mix of Chymera's “Wish,” and thereafter the soulful pulsations and vocal splendor of Holder's superb mood-setter “Time” and the soul-jazz groove of Migs' “For Real.”

Mid-disc highlights include Shara Nelson adding her powerfully emotive vocal presence to Charles Webster's “acid mix” of NUfrequency's mighty “Go That Deep” and Shur-I-Kan's makeover of Osborne's ecstatic “Ruling.” The tune, which also bolstered the Spectral Sound artist's eponymous solo release a few months back, can't help but enliven the NRK set the moment its jubilant and sunkissed vibe arrives on the scene. The mix starts to coast with the onset of 212's mix of Scope's “Omoplata” but then is jerked to attention by the honk of a tenor sax wailing through Matthias Heilbronn's “Brooklyn Sub” and the charging churn of Hot Lizard's closing “The Theme.” Omit the silly voiceover (“This is only a test / Do not attempt to leave the dance floor”) that spoils an otherwise fine house groove two-thirds of the way through and you're left with a pretty near flawless set of underground deep house music. Hardly mind-blowing on genre-advancing terms but solid nonetheless.

December 2008