Review: Hauser/Quaid – Meli Gala (RocknRoll Records)

Hauser/Quaid is the solo project of Brooklyn based (that place again. Rivalling Berlin now it seems) musician and DJ Greg Zifcak who is one-third of Techno act Eats Tapes – a band I don’t really know too much about, I have to admit, although from what I can gather, they lie on the more experimental side of the tracks, which is always an interesting lens when its brought to bare on House.

Meli Gala, featuring vocals by Zuzu Neku, is a seductive, hypnotically off-kilter slice of leftfield House that pulses with a joyous energy and life. It has the feel of a Saturday night jam session where the players can suddenly strike away from one groove and into another quite without warning, the sultry, playful vocal acting almost as a shepherd for the vibe, carrying along the soulful warmth as the tune twists and weaves back and forth. It’s beautifully low-key, but with an insistence to it that demands repeated listens.

Loser Gene, featuring C.L.A.W and Young Hetero, shifts the journey ahead a few hours into the night and drifts into genuine Techno-Soul territory. In the way it unites those long, rolling synths, worker-bee percussive hits and the teutonic groove of eighties machine pop it verges into a sound we haven’t heard much of since Carl Craig’s mid nineties opus, Land Cruising, – a record that retooled an entire musical heritage and toyed with our expectations. Here, amongst the ghosts of a future that never came into being, the music seems stark, almost alien, and gorgeously epic. A sleek, tonal odyssey in black and silver.

In contrast, Anna Bugeisha is autumnal mists and stretched light so watery it’s almost aquatic. The deepest thing on the record is also, perhaps paradoxically, the most direct. The hazy chimes which carry the tune give it a lilting, mesmeric air, hardly changing, hardly wavering until the whole thing begins to unravel and detune above the looping chirps. When the kicks amble back, though, the whole thing seems to have picked up a second wind. It’s a weirdly smiling, whimsical jacker, more in keeping with the Orb at their most wickedly focussed than the motherlode of today’s floor fillers. It bucks so imperceptibly, and so gleefully.

The closer, Runout Dub tumbles into a reverberant netherword of half seen shades. It’s barely a tune at all, more a collage of sonic impressions that build and collapse over its length. Its unnerving, and at odds with the other tracks in its experimental feel. Not that there is a problem with that. Quite the opposite in fact. I wish more producers were willing to layer records with different facets of their sound and imagination, rather than spin them off into new releases under a gang of aliases.

Separation from the safety net of normal collaboration can often be a sink or swim state of affairs fraught as it is with the dangers of coming out from the shadows, but Hauser/Quaid has a flare for this sort of thing. It’s House music, yes, but of a sort that shares only a superficial resemblance to the current scene. And that is always more vital than you would think.