VA: The Lab 01-Loco Dice

The Lab 01-Loco Dice finds NRK Music (already known for its Coast2Coast and Back In The Box series) inaugurating a new compilation series which will assume the form of a two-disc set of future-oriented electronic dance music. The first installment comes courtesy of the Tunisian-born and Düsseldorf-raised Loco Dice who has garnered attention for single releases on Minus, Cocoon, and Cadenza and a debut artist album on his own Desolat imprint. The Lab places him behind the decks for a deep and delectable set of grooving house music that spreads twenty-seven tracks across two very differently styled discs. The first half weaves fourteen tracks into an ultra-mobile and alluring mix that's heavy on percussion and bass, while the more vocal-oriented disc two sets its sights on the soulful sides of classic deep house, Detroit techno, and Chicago house.

Disc one slinks into position with tribal percussion and metronomic rhythm patterns (Akiko Kiyama's “Hakobi”) that grow in intensity and consequently entrancement as they effect segues from one cut to the next. Throughout the disc, Loco Dice keeps the focus on the bottom end by emphasizing percussion, house rhythms, and low-riding bass lines. The crack of the snare contrasts with the bright tingle of the triangle while a female voice whispers “Beautiful, beautiful,” after which a house plunge occurs with claps, funky hi-hats, and a thumping kick drum leading the charge. The African vibe moves to the forefront with an energized mix of kalimbas and chanting children in Chris Lattner's (what else?) “African Children.” The mix carries on through Robert Dietz's “Klondike” and Ben Klock's “Bones & Strings Dub” of Kerri Chandler's “Pong,” eventually concentrating its attention on a series of seductive deep house productions (with a few moments of driving, piano-driven Latin swing added for extra spice). MHM 1 (“Bubububadub”), Damian Schwartz & Guti (“Sals-n”), Terrence Dixon (a Mathias Kaden remix of “Below Radar”), and foundsound's Someone Else (“You Don't Got Me”) get face time before Alex Flatner (a Damian Schwartz remix of “Perfect Circles”) and Mirko Loko (“Serena”) take us out—a fine end to a sinuous and funky mix.

Plunging deep from the outset, the second half opens with the lush dreaminess of Nick Holder's “Inside Your Soul” and Jay Haze's “Mama Coca” but turns truly funky when Terry Lee Brown Jr.'s fabulous “Everyday” struts into position. Thereafter the mix spins its wheels for a few minutes but picks itself up the moment DJ Ali's “You Don't Know” arrives with its falsetto vocalizing, string stabs, and bass-pumping soul. A Plastic Avengers remix of Joseph Malik's “Believe and See” follows that's just as enticing, especially when the song's soulful vocal crosses paths with the deep groan of an acoustic bass. Franck Roger (“Take Off”), 95 North (“Forever Underground”), and Audio Soul Project (“Song For Fred”) perpetuate the late-night vibe, after which the mix starts to decompress before exiting via Tyree Cooper's utopian “Love.” Loco Dice professes to play “deep, groovy, chunky, driving, 123 Music for the terrace” and you'll find no shortage of it in this encompassing, 160-minute collection.

March 2009