Lontano
Chroma
Factor City
2005
B+



can you pinpoint the exact moment your favorite extremely small label lost your interest? I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it was the moment that they hired more than one person in the A&R; section. Once that singular vision of what is good music is compromised with another person’s view, it’s all over. It’s actually one of the major points in independent music’s favor. Get a person with taste on par with yours and you’re set.

Which is all just preamble to say that I think the guys over at Factor City are that label for me right now. Just big enough to release enough music to satiate, just small enough never to have to their vision of what music should be released compromised. Admittedly, it helps that the roster is three acts long right now. But you get what I’m saying.

Lontano is the more chic counterpart to the cerebral shoehouse propagated by Undo and Vicknoise. Composed of Jaime Romero & Charles Ortolà, the group is more physical and restrained than their labelmates, but the differences in style are no indication of differences in quality: both groups are creating some of the dreamiest house around right now.

Much like Isolee, the secret to the group’s success is a degree of melodic complexity that’s often missing from most house music. The duo doesn’t seem to be satisfied with the easy hook, instead pushing two of them right up next to one another and seeing how they interact with one another. On something like “Netic” it works beautifully, coming off like a lost electro classic from the mid 80s. “Lovebass” works in much the same way, leaving tendrils of synth to fend for themselves at the end of each measure.

But Lontano aren’t stylistically constrained by tags: like any Robag Wruhme’s most recent solo album, at times Chroma is a frustratingly diverse disc, intent on making sure that you know exactly how talented the producers are. “Jugets” is one of these anachronisms, it being a cut-up vocal booty bass track that can’t help but throw in bubbly synths overtop.

The album’s highlight comes early on in the form of “Gaymania,” though, which is one of the closest-to-the-vest plays here. Eminently reserved in its composition, the track sounds like what might happen if Luciano and Metro Area ever got together in a room.

Highlights aren’t really the point here, though, as Chroma is one of the rare dance records that sounds good from start to finish. With only twelve tracks and each at workable running times, this record may be the best instrumental pop-house you’ll hear all year.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2005-04-15
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