I've long sung the praises of genius local deep and Afro house label Fatsouls, its creative leader DJ Said, and its fantastically soulful We & the Music party -- another monthly installment of which takes place tonight (Fri/3, 9pm, $5. 222 Hyde, SF. www.222hyde.com) with residents Said and Le Charm.
The new release on Fatsouls, "In & Out" by classic Detroit musicmaker Alton Miller, confirms that the label is gaining stature worldwide by continuing its steady stream of high-quality, thoughtfully mature, and devilishly groovy tunes.
Alton, like others of his particular generation including Stacey Pullen, Shazz, Chez Damier, Theo Parrish, and Kenny Dixon, Jr., takes a more organic approach to techno, shaking off its colder aspects for a more overtly house and jazz-oriented feel, yet still lacing tracks with a slight urban spookiness that can only emanate from Detroit. (Some of them even incorporate -- gasp! -- vocals.) They create what I think of as "twilight house," far from the peak energy of midnight or the wind-down of afterhours: still banging enough to keep your body intrigued while your spirit dances up the walls toward daylight.
The main mix of "In & Out" does indeed feature Alton's warm singing, on his own journey through love's rejection to acceptance to a call for unity. That particular male voice is itself a connection to a long line of house releases. (One of the most unique and uplifting club experiences I ever had was at a mixed straight-gay club called Torpedo in Miami in 1992, on a night when the DJ played only deep house songs with male vocals. Amazing, and a sexy counter to the diva overload the club scene was experiencing at that post-rave moment.)
A gently intricate tribal-like drum pattern forms the basis of the track, while shimmery synths provide the drive. A Bhoddi Satva Ancestral Mix strips it down a bit with driving cymbal swooshes and pulsing yet unobtrusive chords. Sophisticated remixes by local talent-on-the-rise Steghen Ringmaiden and Trinidadian Trini round out one of the year's most soulful and absorbing releases.