VA: Tessera

As is its wont, Sushitech splits Tessera, an anniversary release celebrating three years of existence, into two double-vinyl halves, with their respective offerings covering the label's Sushitech and Sushitech Purple bases (classic and traditional sounds on the first and minimal and deep house on the second). In truth, it pretty much sounds all of a piece to these ears, with one gloriously buoyant house cut after another (eighteen in all) taking the stage. Don't be thrown by the minimal tag either: Tessera's jacking cuts are club-ready in the best sense of the word but they're exquisitely artful too in construction and design, all of which makes the two-hour collection a rapturous parade of mind-and-body music.

The first disc teems with precision-fueled percussive jams (Steve O'Sullivan's “Soft Scoop Memories,” Anonym's “Go Deeper”) and jacking house grooves occasionally sweetened with voice samples (e.g., the titular drawl that recurs throughout Brothers' Vibe's rollicking deep house cut “Take Me 2 The Raw”). Standouts include Leonel Castillo's “Stone Peach,” which spices up its nimble tech-house thump with a greasy funk guitar lick, and Soulmate's “Set Fire To My Feet,” which mobilizes burbling house chords with bass throb and handclapping swing into a breezy eight-minute ride. In prototypically idiosyncratic fashion, Tessera connects the dots betwixt house and jazz swing when Bernd Krull uses a looped piano sample as the backbone for “Kopromaniac,” and a few anomalies appear too, such as Koljah's dark ambient reverie “Well It's A Pleasure.”

It's no surprise that disc two's as satisfying when jubilantly jacking house grooves sprinkled with soulful voice accents, brightly tinkling piano melodies, quirky electronic punctuations, and low-end bass lines abound. Having settled into a laconic skip, Serafin's marvelous “Syndroma Liguria ” moves into funkier territory with off-beat stabs, echoing rattles, a plunging vocal effect, and owl-like hoots blended into an hypnotic cocktail. In Chrom's “Never Forever,” a looped female vocal fragment chirps alongside a merrily skipping, Rhodes-kissed pulse while in David Labeij's “Lenny” the vocal line “I've got a powerful feeling inside” swims through the aquatic mix, the phrase clearly distinguishable when it moves to the fore but foggier when it fades into the steamy groove. The aforementioned jazz vibe emerges during disc two also, specifically in Charlie Dark's gyroscopic “reconstruction” of Soulpatrol's “Love Variations Pt.1,” which marries a sinuous sax sample to crisp beats that snap and pop by turn, and in Nick Holder's “Feelin' Sad,” which lifts a few lines from “God Bless The Child,” the standard most closely associated with Billie Holiday. Tasty too are Chris Carrier's wonderfully aerodynamic “Mirage” and Makam's roof-raising “You Might Lose It.” There's not a weak cut in the bunch, making Tessera a veritable embarrassment of riches.

January 2009