Music News

Henrik Schwarz

It's not every compilation of house music that starts out with a Sun Ra track. In fact, this may be the only one. Still, coming from Henrik Schwarz, this isn't all that surprising, considering that he opened his 2006 DJ-Kicks set with a number by Moondog and wove a slew of other free-jazz/soul-jazz tracks into it. The freedom and rhythmic vitality of '60s and '70s jazz and soul is a fundamental component of Schwarz's DJ style. Although many other house DJs would certainly say the same thing — that R&B and soul are primary influences on their style — it's often quite hard to hear any trace of Memphis or Motown in their tracks beyond the occasional diva-esque vocal run. Thankfully, Schwarz's method of being "jazzy" and "soulful" is less about directly referencing his influences than it is the simple act of coating his club-ready digital thump with a bit of skillet grease. With plenty of improvisational flair and sonic warmth, Schwarz delivers his house sets with an easy, organic approach that occasionally allows for a sonic surprise or two. This album, while not technically live, is compiled from recordings of several of Schwarz's live mixes over the past year, and it showcases his improvisational skills and his electro-facility. Besides the opening Sun Ra cut, Schwarz never ventures outside of the electronic realm on this disc; even the cuts here attributed to James Brown and Mandrill (!) are heavily reworked new versions. But the fact that Schwarz is choosing to remix Mandrill rather than some anonymous white label tells you where his heart is truly at.

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Jason Ferguson