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had a whole intro here about the dance music genre known as progressive house, mostly because I don’t know anything about it, and my joke about Alan Parsons getting funky in a Jamiroquai hat didn’t really work. But if you know anything about this scene, I guess you probably know all about Massachusetts DJ Steve Porter anyway, from his associations with Sasha and John Digweed and Felix da Housecat and Sander Kleinenberg and Chris Fortier and a whole bunch of people that you already worship and whom I could pretend to know a lot about but don’t. And if you don’t know anything about this scene, that’s okay; this record can be fully appreciated without any insider knowledge at all.
Because it is awesome like an opossum.
Actually, my first thought was about how much Porter’s music resembles mid-period Alan Parsons Project material. Man, I loved that stuff; Pyramania was the jam! They used to play APP on FM progressive radio right alongside Kraftwerk and Bob James and Earl Klugh and Blondie and Jean-Michel Jarre and the Police and George Benson and Talking Heads…truly a golden time.
There is enough of Alan Parsons in Steve Porter that I just dove right in. It’s all instrumental dance music with mid-1970s synth textures and an omnivorous approach to every track. It’s not overly house-esque (no pounding piano, no snare-drum breakdowns, no wailing divas) but it’s definitely propulsive and defiantly pelvic. “Swanky” is about as funky as it gets in 2005, with a bassline straight from the Sylvers (“Boogie Fever” is my favorite song these days, can we get some critical love for the Sylvers already?) and some buzzing Moog textures that generally resolve themselves into a vaguely Arabic mood before shifting to something that sounds…well, not to belabor this, but exactly like an instrumental from a mid-period Alan Parsons Project album. Porter’s computers even do a whole bubbling “Oxygene” thing, which made me actually swoon.
Some of these tracks are already apparently well-known in the scene: “Vodka Cranberries” disguises its housiness with an intriguing melody and plenty of ambient swooshes all up in the mix; its breakdown comes early and turns the track inside-out into some kind of hungry monster. Porter has already put out a lot of these on various comps and EPs over the last couple of years, but the high gloss with which he polishes his tracks doesn’t take anything away from their inventiveness; “Purina” (trance the way they might do it in France) and “Square Dancing” (goth metal power chords over a Clivilles and Cole beat) and “Rage in the Cage” (not a J. Geils cover, darn it, but great use of counterpoint) all pack a ton of aural information packed into each yummy measure.
This might be the very apotheosis of Intelligent Dance Music so far, mostly because it doesn’t try to go overboard about either the “intelligent” part or the “dance” part. Both components exist comfortably alongside each other on every track. What appeals to me most is that Porter is a composer and a DJ without making a big deal about it.
No, scratch that. What REALLY appeals to me most about Homegrown is that it’s awesome, like when you see God and He’s all like “Hey, yo, road trip!” and you jump in his whip which is kind of a beater but has an amazing stereo and He throws this on and you crank it up and it sounds great as you drive to Milwaukee, talking shit and laughing your asses off. (Of course, you end up drunk in the 7-Eleven parking lot at 2:30 a.m. trying to sober up with coffee enough so He can drive you home, and He starts freestyling to the beat from “Between 9 and 10” and He’s not that good but whatever, it’s all fun.)
Um, so yeah, a pretty good recommendation from me.
Reviewed by: Matt Cibula
Reviewed on: 2005-02-08
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