Phasen: Songs From The Black Chair
Deep House's reach extends to all parts of the globe, Florida, USA as much as anywhere. The music's effervescent spirit comes through loud and clear on Ryan Parmer's latest Phasen collection, the Orlando-born producer's first since 2011's Twenty One EP (U-Cover) and his 2012 Market Street EP collab with Refurb (5 and Dime Recordings); Songs From The Black Chair is also, incidentally, the first full-length album issued by the Denver, Colorado-based 5 and Dime Recordings, established in 2011 as a conduit for high-quality Deep House and Deep Tech House material.
Two years in the making, Songs From The Black Chair features eight originals by the bedroom producer supplemented by two remixes. Anything but dour, the seventy-six-minute set is upbeat in spirit and sophisticated in design though at no expense to its grooving vibe. In keeping with the Deep House genre, the tracks ooze sensuality and soul, with the latter bolstered by the inclusion of a vocal sample here and there. Parmer presumably used contemporary digital tools to fashion the tracks, which are heavily loaded up with beats, bass, keyboards (synths, organ), and vocal accents. And though that appears to be confirmed explicitly in the title “Digital Block,” the uplifting track itself exudes a humanity and warmth characteristic of analog production. The ten tracks form a cohesive whole yet also include elements (such as the wiry bass line that snakes through the undergrowth of “Night Moves”) that differentiate one from another.
A strong and classy opener, “Flossin” eases the listener into the album with a relaxed bumping groove that gradually gains heft, the tune's outdoorsy lounge party atmosphere tinged with dub and its funk feel bolstered by synth stabs and a delectably swinging bass pulse. Additional ear candy arrives courtesy of a simple rising-and-falling melodic motif that breezily glides across the music's smooth surfaces. The track's so melodically appealing, it's no wonder it was selected for the remix treatments, with Loz Goddard giving it a trippy, bass-thudding boost and Life Recorder a snappy astro-funk overhaul. Though it's otherwise as strong a track as any of the others, “Cruising For a Bruising” is weakened slightly by the presence of a vocal line whose soulfulness is stretched so dramatically it becomes a woozy warble. But that's a rare misstep on Songs From The Black Chair, and weak points are otherwise hard to locate on this consistently satisfying collection from the Florida native.