Various Artists

Harthouse Compilation, Chapter 2: Dark Hearts

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From the hushed cavernous water and air sounds of Claude Young's opening track, "Chamber of Dreams," it is clear that, despite the presence of well-known hard techno players Alter Ego, Cari Lekebusch, and Neil Landstrumm, this compilation barely skirts the edge of the dancefloor. In fact, with the exception of the quick if relaxed loops of Luke Slater's "Time to Track" and the requisite European proto-trance of Thor Inc.'s "Here Comes the Sun," nothing on this disc would stand a chance of moving modern clubbers. Instead, listeners are treated to a sublime combination of ambient, acid, and dub -- a perfect soundtrack for a hazy second room, complete with all the necessary end-of-the-world vibes. Hardfloor creates a punchy acid massage with "Pepper Penalty," while Young turns in a more typically Detroit second helping of machine soul on "Boulderdash." But most compelling are Landstrumm's shockingly uncharacteristic jazz loops and cymbals on "Black Whispers." Too wicked to be classified as mere chill, yet with beats per minute far below the mandatory speed limit, Dark Hearts, Vol. 2 is perfect listening for those who find comfort within the beautiful and morose.

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