Very rarely on FFO do we get to write about an artist who is so easy to categorise and thus to compare to existing and established acts. However, making our afternoon that little bit easier is Matt Warren, a Chicago House pioneer, who was there when house music sparked from the ashes of disco and set Chicago—and later, the world—alight. Rather predictably, we are going to suggest that fans of Chicago House might enjoy his first full-length release of, y’know, Chicago House…
Because that is essentially what Warren is doing with ‘Music Is My Life’: pure, unadulterated Chicago House. Setting out to recapture the very essence and soul of the genre (which many would suggest was lost sometime in the house explosion of the late nineties) Warren has been insistent of using real musicians on his track, alongside the traditional synthesized rhythms and beats, as well as vocalists that possess the soul of the original house tracks.
Indeed, with many modern house tracks, it can be very difficult to discern the genre’s roots and adjacency to disco, funk and soul. Instead it seems as if House has become an extension of pop, just with less vocals and more beats. The genealogy of House is preserved throughout Warren’s album: on the funky bassline on ‘The Way To My Heart’ to the deep, soulful vocals on ‘Get On Up’.
Of course, we are aware that traditional House fans are also lovers of innovation—after all, it is part of the appeal of a genre that’s very format encourages experimentation. ‘Music Is My Life’ still displays some of Warren’s artistic flair, borrowing from non-traditional sources such as Latin Pop and Classical Piano. It seems paradoxical, but you can’t make a Chicago House record that is faithful to the traditional sound if it is derivative, and this album manages to be embody both the past and the future of house in less than 90 minutes.