House music has always seemed victimized by those with a fetish for naming genres. With Techno you really only have two sorts: Good Techno and shit Techno. Which tunes are to be found in those two categories largely depends on the person listening to the music. But with House? Well, half an hour of trawling through any music retail website will bestow upon you an almost endless display of sub genres – each more moronic than the last. Funky House? Shouldn’t ALL House music have at least a crumb of funk to it? Yacht House? What the Hell? And Deep House? Well, Deep House isn’t.
There, I said it. One of the great tricks played on us in recent times is Deep House. More correctly, it’s the way the term Deep House has been attached to virtually everything that isn’t an out-and-out stomper. Most tracks aren’t and so, by definition, everything must be Deep House.
I suspect one of the reasons Deep House has become such a growth industry in recent times is that it has been latched onto by a generation raised on Berlin Minimalism and anodyne Tech-house; a Beatport generation desperately trying to latch onto some form of artificial authenticity whilst ignoring the fact that the real deal is all around them. Much of it is a contrived sound, owing much to boring minor chords and watery, jazzy noodlings that have little to do with the innate understanding of soul and complex motifs that define the music of those who can be said to make real Deep House such as Theo Parrish or Pepe Braddock. As a result it is a music that has all the depth of the aural crud of 70s lift music – a type of sonic wallpaper that covers up any true emotion or feeling.
Ironic, then, that Omar Santis seems to have been dumped into the morass. His release here on Woodsman & Lady log has more in common with the stark emptiness and beauty of Gunnar Haslam, say, or Huerco S than it does with the lazy jumble to be found in various website top tens. Over the three tracks here, Santis pushes us into a realm of shadows and half heard whispers. The simplicity of the music belays the complexity of textures amongst the grooves.
Bananvirvel is a hypnogogic journey. It’s a dusk drive under the light of a dying star. Something about it puts me in mind of the aeons old Patashnik album by Biosphere. Perhaps it’s the way the rhythms seem to melt the permafrost that lies so thick upon the rest of the music, allowing the synths and samples to warm into life like ancient pollens released from a retreating glacier.
Red Ones Or Gold Ones is probably the most up front of the trio. Warmer and more rounded than Bananvirvel, but inhabiting the same empty lands. It’s the call to life of an early spring. Simple enough chords and a perfectly constructed groove that meanders in and out of your mind and around your body.
Best of all is Shoe Bre!. Verging on a more jazzy feeling, it’s underpinned by a deep kick and reverb touched claps that barely prepare you for the distant burst of vocals that hang above the horizon, like a guiding light in the darkness.
I don’t know whether Omar Santis would agree with me on my feelings about Deep House. Lord knows there are thousands that would argue the toss. But I don’t think it’s accurate to lump him in with the rest. This is a record that defies such easy categorisation. Yes, it’s deep. Yes it’s house. But its more than that as well. Haunting and fragile and, most of all, soulful in a way so few seem to understand in this age buried emotions. Yes, it’s so much more.