‘House music that knows its roots, past and classicism, but is made with the minds and means of today’. Words used by Gerd Janson to describe Smallpeople’s album ‘Salty Days’ on Smallville back in 2012 and nothing has changed since. To me, this is a label dedicated to those who don’t necessarily seek a constant source of innovation in style or sound, but instead choose to relax in the warm glow of exquisite productions. Smallpeople, in particular, deliver on this front every single time.
I first discovered the label through my obsession with Dial Records (of which Smallville is an off-shoot) and Smallpeople’s EP ‘Before Leaving To Paris’, on Laid Records, another off-shoot, was the first record I bought of theirs. I’ve since purchased almost their entire back catalog, so it’d be fair to say I’m something of a super fan. I’ve even gone so far as to make the small detour of a solo pilgrimage to the shop they co-own in Hamburg whilst on my way to Berlin.
The duo consists of Julius Steinhoff and Just von Ahlefeld, who both make great music by themselves – Just has done so under the alias Dionne and Steinhoff in his own name. However, in my opinion, the magic really happens when they join forces. Their latest EP Lowrider Anarchy celebrates their 10th anniversary as a label. It’s a perfect example of the music they’ve been putting out during that time.
The first side of the twelve is dedicated to the sultry Blissful Limbo, which is as classic a Smallville track as you’re going to hear. A simple piano and drum loop are accompanied by soothing chords and vocal sample that glide, spacious and expertly crafted, leaving you wanting more, in a good way. It’s refrained enough for the warm up but carries all the emotion required to bring the right crowd to their knees at peak time.
Next, in the title track Lowrider Anarchy, we see the duo go in a bit deeper. Faster paced drums with haunting pads and a growling bass line throughout is perfect for after-hours smoky dance floors and bares resemblance to some of the labels earlier releases from Lawrence and Steven Tang – all the while maintaining the quintessential Smallpeople panache.
Lastly we have lazy Lama Legend, which brings the package to a crescendo. It’s slightly techier than a lot of their previous work, merging elements of acid techno with the gooey ambiance they do so well. A brilliant 3 tracker, as always, and here’s to another ten years…