With Along The Coast, Julius Steinhoff will make his return to Smallville, the Hamburg-based label and record store that he co-founded with Just von Ahlefeld. There’s a certain level of expectation when it comes to Smallville releases, in that it has defined itself as a platform for house artists – Moomin, Christopher Rau and Arnaldo being some of the more recent releases to come from the label. Steinhoff doesn’t stray from this definition of Smallville, but he adds an extra layer of depth to it: the tunes on Along The Coast would work just as well as end-of-the-night tunes as they would as chilled tunes for a summery Sunday afternoon.
Steinhoff certainly strikes a balance with this record: Along The Coast is equally as rewarding for novices and experts of electronic music alike. The title track is a perfect example. The squelchy underlying synth melody would work perfectly on a club sound system, probably provoking stank faces from the entire dancefloor. Equally, the delicate manoeuvre of the drum loops, when balanced with more subtle synths, is a detail that any muso would enjoy.
‘Moondowner’ is energetic without being joyful, thus living up to its name. The quiet booming samples that criss-cross the hi-hats make you feel like you’re falling further and further down the rabbit hole. By the end of the track, you can’t tell whose imagination you’re in: Alice’s, Steinhoff’s or your own.
The closing track, ‘Be_Myself’, feels teasing as well as an assertion of Steinhoff’s artistic sensibility. As expressed in the vocal sample, he’s wholly aware of the pigeonholes that you’re assigned when you make music within a certain genre, but embraces it by making the housiest of deep house tunes. With a melody line that you can’t help but dance to, Steinhoff makes self-awareness groovy.
It may not be a game changer in terms of innovation within a genre, but Steinhoff certainly does know how to make a bloody good house rhythm.