Derrick Carter

Squaredancing in a Roundhouse

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Derrick Carter's been such a vital part of house music for so long that it's difficult to believe Squaredancing in a Roundhouse is the first production LP under his own name, and only his second overall (1995's As Long as It's Groovy appeared under his Sound Patrol alias). Still, one of Chicago's best eases the way with a set of tight productions in different modes, each of them looking at the dark and twisted side of house -- more Adonis than Marshall Jefferson. He'd probably gathered hundreds of ideas for tracks during his decade-plus of DJ dates, and it pays on this distinctive, though slightly difficult, record. The emphasis is on acid house technology rather than deep house organics, pointing to Carter's affinity for the clipped beats and monotoned vocal commentary that made acid house what it was. "The Hollow Clash of Marionettes" rides a minimalist Phuture groove, while "Rhythm Machine" and the oddly falsettoed "Friends Talk" are Kraftwerk-by-way-of-Green Velvet electro-house. No surprise, then, that there are several Detroit connections as well. Carter invites listeners in with a Shaft-meets-Moodymann vibe for the intro "Boompty Boomp Theme," talking in a low monotone over a set of porn beats. Chez Damier, who has close ties to both Detroit and Chicago, shows up on the pulsing, housey "A Hope." Carter also cribs a bit of Stevie Wonder, melding a sped-up "Superstition" with a luscious house vocal for the beautiful "Do You Believe?" Overall this doesn't compare well to the striking productions and smooth flow heard during his mix sets. Still, as an opportunity for Carter to hit the studio, blow off some steam, and try out a few different ideas, it works just fine.

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