Various Artists

Abstract Fusion 2

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The second volume of Trackmode's Abstract Fusion series of compilations features many of the same artists that made the first volume such a valuable sampler of late-'90s Midwestern deep house. Once again, label owner Brett Dancer rounds up the best talent on his roster -- Larry Heard, Mike Grant, Chris Gray, Glenn Underground, Theo Parrish, and others -- highlighting the style of house music most associated with Detroit and Chicago, the two home cities for most of the artists here. As mentioned and stressed again, this is straight-up Midwestern house, meaning that it retains a soulful, retro feel much in the spirit of the classic textbook definition of house music circa early-'80s New York and mid- to late-'80s Chicago. While most of the songs here are of high quality and no doubt effective on the dancefloor, a few stand out: Chris Gray's soul-drenched "Drowned in You"; Norma Jean Bell's dark "Fabulous," with its driving, propulsive rhythm and a quiet, sexy vocal; Rick the Godson's laid-back and multi-styled "City Bar Groove"; Glen Underground's "Chicago Heights," being perhaps the album highlight; and Dave Lala's "Ecstacy Groove," with its alluring melodies. In short, Abstract Fusion, Vol. 2 functions as a well-rounded sampler for one of America's leading deep house labels and highlights the primarily Midwestern phenomenon. It's also valuable due to the generally underground, vinyl-only nature of the music style.

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