2013 has already proved itself a vintage year for house music, with new artists and labels popping up almost every week. The sheer volume of new music may all seem a little overwhelming, but for discerning fans London’s newly minted Lobster Theremin imprint should prove an essential stop on many a personal house odyssey. Set up by the people behind the capital’s club staple Streets of Beige, the label has drafted in Berlin’s Palms Trax for its first release, collecting three superb house jams backed by a remix from man of the moment Willie Burns.
It’s no novelty to hear young producers referencing Chicago and Detroit on their hardware, but rarely is this feat pulled off with such grace and eye for melody. It’s also worth applauding that while the majority of house practitioners currently veil themselves in distortion and lofi trappings, on his debut Palms Trax goes for a polished sound that sounds so fresh, capturing the listener’s imagination by going against the grain. The Equation EP evokes Nu Groove-era Burrell Brothers, with the new millenium’s percussive weight twinned to lush retro grooves. The release kicks off with Late Jam’s rattling drum machine workout, as punchy clap patterns vie for dominance with a showstopping bassline. It’s often said that the simplest grooves work best, and Late Jam comes as proof, as later a dreamy synth wash and burbling acid licks enter the fray, sure to set the dancefloor alight. Yet even the strongest of starts can’t prepare the listener for the EP’s phenomenal title track, where bassline and glistening synth melodies are set in balletic counterpoint, bursting from the speakers with untold energy.
The B-side continues to ply pad-driven house jams with a deeper focus, as Houses In Motiondrifts into interstellar territory, starlit melodies jostling against taut handclap and cowbell rhythms. Remix duties are also perfectly pitched as Willie Burns steps up, fresh from a series of fiery releases on Crème Organization, L.I.E.S., and Trilogy Tapes. His wryly titled ‘dance remix’ of Late Jam is a nervous affair, swapping the original’s centrepiece bassline for searing synths and jittery atmospherics. It’s a strong rework, and says a lot about the power of Palms Trax’s material that his tracks are not overshadowed by this more experienced hand. A new label has to start with a splash to make ripples in today’s overcrowded scene, and Lobster Theremin have knocked this one out of the park, a stunning set of house tracks sure to go down as some of the year’s very best.