When the end of the year is approaching, somehow we always feel the need to look back and reminisce. It has been said that 2013 is shaping up to be all about that ‘90s house music revival. And let’s face it, lately we have been getting bombarded left and right with that classic piano riff, the monotonous vibrato strings, accompanied by splashes of diva-tastic exclamations, all of which unmistakably driven by that deep organ bassline.
Yes, that good old ’90s house music is making a fiery return to the mainstream, and all prejudices aside, we must say it feels mighty swell to hear MK (and not Guetta!) booming out of the speakers at our local night shop these days.
If you were here last time around, you might remember our previous article in which we attempted to touch base with the future of house music, shedding some light on a possible future for the genre. We focused on exciting and innovative sounds & new hybrid genres, and the artists spearheading the movement. All of them use elements adopted from mid-‘90s house music in their creations, some more prominently than others. So for us, it did not seem like a far stretch to focus on the apparent return of the “the golden era of house music”.
Looking back on 2013, we can see that it’s been a year in which underground dance music has once again shown its face in the mainstream. The level of interest kept rising up to the point that UK’s chart-topper turned out to be none other than the aforementioned legend that is Marc Kinchen (MK), one of the most notable house producers of the golden era, with his rendition of “Look Right Through” by Storm Queen. You know it, we know it, and probably your neighbors know it by now too.
So, could decent house music be making a comeback into the mainstream? Is the younger generation finally getting weary of the bleak and abrasive sounds of EDM? The answer is “yes, it is”, and “sorry, we don’t know”. Either way, here are some of the artists propelling this underground movement into the mainstream.
The Golden Boy
Gives his own spin on ‘90s inspired house music, blending it with elements of bass, UK garage and R&B. Absolutely solid tunes, this boy might have really struck gold here.
Blonde – It’s You (The Golden Boy Remix)
This young fella made a smashing remix of MK’s 1992 classic “Always”. This one really brings the house down. Also does a helluva job with his originals. Keep an eye on him, he might just be one of the breakthrough artists in 2014.
MK feat. Alana ‘Always’ (Route 94 Remix Edit)
Taking jackin’ house to a whole new level, EJECA mixes ‘90s inspired house (notice that deep analogue warmth!) with soulful UK garage vibes. This is aural perfection.
EJECA – Together
The Irishmen take their tasteful brand of house right into disco territory, only to bring it right back again. Known to bring the house down no matter the BPM, these suppliers of deep vibes obviously know what house music needs at any given moment in time.
Bicep – The Final Trip
The name says it all. Montel brings the ‘90s funkiness with a bit of a Soul Train factor. Gotta love the variety of his productions. Standout class!
Montel – Movin’ On
Yep, he’s the odd man out in this list. But we think that his bass-heavy booty remix (or rework, if you will) of Aaliyah’s classic “One In A Million” can definitely hold its own among the other ‘90s inspired tunes. Also features a cheeky little riff from Toto’s “Africa”. Ha, great!
Aaliyah – One In A Million (Kill Frenzy Remix)
The master, the legend. What a don! His track record goes way back, should we mention Nightcrawlers? What about 4th Measure Men? Fact: he is one of the most celebrated remixers of the ‘90s. Just take a look at his Wikipedia article, and be amazed.
Sub Focus feat Kele – Turn It Around (MK Remix)
Has ‘90s house ever really left us?
The answer is a firm “no”. There have always been artists out there reaching out to the emotional sounds of this era (hello Toddla T, mid 2011s), it just has not happened on this scale before. Fact is, house music culture, which is sociable by default, has always has been there for the people. It was built on a movement, and those that have the sight to look into the future and define new stylistics will undoubtedly take us there.
Some might also argue that ‘90s house cannot be confined nor defined by the household emotional sounds, which is partly true. There have been outliers, and there always will be. But the elements that the majority seems to remember the most are exactly the elements producers choose to emulate and expand on, whether it’s specific production techniques, synths or samples. Or just that ‘90s feel.
We hear you wondering: how does this affect the current state of house music? Well, right now the trend seems to be a pastiche of ‘90s house music, deep house and bass (and a tad of rave, maybe?). Yes, you have heard it all before and yes, sometimes it’s really just slicker, louder and shinier.
But isn’t rehashing the past just killing house music? A form of cannibalization maybe? Well, let’s clear that one off the table right now. It’s been argued that society operates in cycles, as does popular music (they say it’s cycles of approximately 20 years, although we believe that there are multiple continuous cycles in effect at any given moment in time). So essentially, we are always bound to end up where we started, at some point or another. And God knows we’d take a ‘90s house music revival ANYTIME over what we’ve heard in the last few years.
But in all fairness, we need to take note of those producers who use these popular ‘90s elements and whip them into something new and fresh. And we also happen to believe that there is nothing wrong with a little bit of nostalgia every now and again. So do enjoy it while you can, until the recycling process starts all over again.
Until next time, one love!