We gave Damiano von Erckert’s debut album Mr Pink, What Have You Been Smoking? a lustrous five star review just six months ago (here). His second album arrives on AVA. to a greater fanfare; in the half year since that playful first LP, Erckert’s profile has rocketed amongst clued-up house fans. Dubbed as the scene’s new wunderkind, the Cologne based producer has taken it upon himself to inject a welcome bit of lo-fi soul into the repetitious genre.
As with Mr Pink, the album is brazen in its reliance on gleeful samples and nagging vocal hooks. Where other ‘soulful house’ producers idly place a female vocal snippet atop a rigid 4×4 kick, Damiano applies a lo-fi aesthetic, forging a genuinely dusty and rickety listen from start to finish.
The highlights are hard to count on one hand. ‘All Good’ opens the EP at a leisurely pace, a rising swirl of breathy choir harmonies punctuated by heartfelt strings. ‘No Good Times’ might just be the show-stopper, reverberating with twangs of bluesy rock guitars and a grizzled male vocal – all driven forward by an urgent house kick – fit to burst with vintage charm. ‘Housem’ and ‘Sweet and Kind’ both sport what has become a distinctive AVA. sort of sample: the vintage croon, as crackled and rusty as an antique gramophone.
Elsewhere hooks are supplanted with off-kilter instrumentation. ‘French Porsche’, for example rubs unsteady Rhode chords up against a timid percussive shuffle, whilst ‘Adhab Ya Msafiri’ centres around a retro synth and flurries of Afro-disco drum work. (Motor City Drum Ensemble also makes an appearance remixing ‘Adhab Ya Msafiri’– fitting, given the obvious parallels between AVA. and MCDE’s jazz-indebted style).
The LP’s predecessor Mr Pink, a collaboration between Damiano and Tito Wun, benefited from the latter’s hip hop prowess. But his absence here, except for on the excellent ‘Reelluv’, means Love Based Music is grounded in house music, whereas Mr Pink was essentially an album of two halves: hip hop and house.
Crucially, the album’s dusty and loose instrumentation lends an authenticity often missing from modern house and soul music – and again sees Damiano von Erckert put the ‘fun’ back into ‘funk’.
AVA. | September | Format: vinyl