although stolen kisses was running along nicely, lwe editor steve mizek is now launching a second label, argot (find out why on ra). it kicks off with an ep from amir alexander – a chicago house producer that doesn’t make chicago house. or at least, not of the sort you’d expect from such a ubiquitous description. his is deep, masterfully coloured and pacey, with great and soulful synth work a distinctive quality of the stuff he’s released on labels like plan b, deep vibes and machining dreams. what’s more, each of the four cuts here is overloaded with emotion and dense with atmosphere, despite feeling open and airy.
“gutter flex” opens things at a slick lick with strident kicks and molten, rasping analogue lines. they rumble along as soft synth notes rain down slowly from above, bringing to mind the rubberised stomp of tazz’s recent full length and hypnotising in the process. “black rain” is less streamlined and pulls in many directions – itchy hi hats run right through the middle as freewheeling synth sequencers roll up and down the face, sounding almost like plucked notes. as they do, they document a roller coaster of emotions, the highs and lows of whatever shit it is you’re going through. because of the smeared synth patterns that colour the background, echoes of halcyon era planet e can be heard everywhere, but all remodelled in a tightly knitted and kinetic house framework. it’s the same on ‘dark dirt’; where eventually soft-edged notes ride up and down the scale leaving rippling patterns in their wake as a boogie-fried and sun frazzled boom-bap scurries along below. closer ‘mystical eroticism’ is the most aesthetically bruised and worn of the lot (though all four are somewhat aged sounding) and the kicks seem almost punctured they’re so heavy hearted. the track trudges along at a disheartened pace (in comparison to the rest at least) and the background chords now ring out mournfully, barely with enough will to make themselves heard. devastatingly arresting, crushingly resonant; every space sounds haunted by some tragic loss and comes over like kassem mosse remaking ‘sandstorms’ in his loneliest hour. there’s a lot of solid, decent house music out there right now, but this feels like a classic.