Chicago House Music has a long and storied history going back to the 1980’s. I have always felt that Chicago House music does not get the due it deserves for its influence on current Pop music today. Its electronic fingerprint are all over modern music releases. You can hear its beats and clicks and clacks all over the Top 100 Dance and R&B and Hip-Hop Charts. Matt Warren is part of the original pioneers that advanced this music in the Mid West. “Rock the Nation” is seminal House music hit from that time that still sounds as fresh and exciting as did then. In fact, it is so much the real deal it sounds even better in the context of the music of today.
Matt has decided to put out a new record and it is a welcome addition to the dance music scene today. The first track “How Do I Love Thee “boldly proclaims Matt Warren is back, and boy is he ever. The confidence and attitude of the opening track sets the stage for 5:01 of stomping classic house with updated aural textures and great horns to keep anyone grooving on the floor until they collapse from exhaustion. “The Way to My Heart” keeps the dance party going. What is impressive about these tracks, is not just the commitment to what makes house music great, but also a level of production skills that few in house music possess, outside of names like Felix the House Cat or Jesse Saunders and Vince Lawrence. I like the way Warren builds his tracks with a Latin influence that keeps just shy of Acid House.
As always DJs and club goers are the intended audience for this record. There are so many sub-genres of house music and we can hear a number of the referenced hear. There is a deep house element on the track “In the Dark Storm” in which the processed piano melody takes over and radiates with sparse accompaniment. He also shines with his collaboration with Sharkeyes on “Sometimes”. It‘s Nu-House set in an EDM frame with vocals by Pepper Gomez. It is not unlike the sonically inspired tracks one could have heard flowing out of the Kingston sound system culture back in the 1970’s.
“La Rosa” is a Latin tinged stomper with very cool Wah horns giving it a distinct musical flavoring that is muy caliente. The Flamenco singer Elena Andujar brings an astute blend of world influences to the melody and vocal arrangement. She brings classic Mideast vocal phrasing and melds it with her distinctly Latin vocal idiosyncrasies. Add that to Warren’s insistent beats and production elements by varying the instruments we hear then we have a track that can actually take the listener on journey. That journey is taken with dance steps, but it is a journey never the less.
One of the nice surprises on this album is the remake of Warren’s classic single “Bang the Box”. The hard house classic that is given the Nu-House treatment. It’s insistent clarion call of “Bang the Box” will be greeted with enthusiasm out on the dance floor today, as it would have in the 1980’s. Hearing Matt Warren getting down today with as much intensity as he did back in the day is a welcome breath of fresh air. Sometimes you just have to open the window in the Nu-House and let it drift through.