VA: Famous When Dead 6

Frankfurt imprint Playhouse celebrates fifteen years of operation with its sixth Famous When Dead outing, a two-disc set of sleek and lithe house grooves that pairs ten artist tracks with a bonus mix CD prepared by label owner Heiko Schäfer and containing alternate takes (in part) of the first disc's tracks. Well-known Playhouse associates such as Losoul and Roman Flügel are aboard, as are Simon Baker, MyMy, Jimmy Edgar, Prosumer, Rework, Common Factor, and others.

Interestingly, the opening cuts by Losoul and Roman IV—the former's muscular and slinky “The Number” includes lascivious and drooling entreaties by a creepy male vocalist (ThisTime) and loudly clattering percussive punctuations, while the latter's clap-happy “Neues Testament” is dominated by staccato synth flares—are only so-so whereas the ones that follow impress considerably more. A definite standout is Todd Terje's “Türkatech” remix of Simon Baker's “Plastik” which adds natural percussion (bongos, tablas) and pulsating synthesizer patterns to the cosmic, Balearic-tinted groovescape. The cut even includes a guitar solo at the seven-minute mark that feels airlifted out of a Sergio Leone “spaghetti western.” At eleven minutes, this spacey fusion of krautrock, house, and world music is the longest track on the disc but the one most deserving of attention. Another above-average entrant is Holger Zilske's “The Bees,” a tight and trippy sampling of dubbed-out tech-house, while Edgar, under the X-District guise and abetted by the android vocal presence of Laura Clarke, contributes a Dirty Mind-styled slice of Minneapolis electro-funk called “Colour Correction.” The tune's creamy synth tones would've sound right at home blazing out of Paisley Park in 1985—too bad it's only two-and-a-half minutes long. Chloé's remix of Rework's “Love Love Love, Yeah” doesn't start out as anything necessarily special but gradually swells into a stepping monster teeming with wildly shuddering vocal treatments. Powered by a nimble bass melody, Prosumer's “The Craze” lays out an infectious party groove and spices it up with a soulful vocal that charms despite the simplicity of the lyrics (“Out on the dance floor's where I want to be / Join me on the dance floor won't you dance with me”). All told, Famous When Dead 6 registers as a solid enough compilation of Playhouse material, with some above-average head-spinners helping to elevate it above the merely passable.

January 2009