Since shifting their focus to the dancefloor in 2014, Edmonton label Normals Welcome has offered a slanted take on the typical Canadian house sound. Where labels like Mood Hut and Pacific Rhythm evoke a shabby warmth, Normals Welcome prefers colder, techno-leaning textures and scifi atmospheres. On releases from Khotin, Tuff Sherm and D. Tiffany the lines are clean, the rhythms mechanised, and each melody has a cool sense of purpose. For their first Various Artists EP the crew offer a solid showcase of their sound, ranging from woozy warm-ups to banging peak numbers, all arranged with a blunted charm.
The A-side is occupied by two Vancouver-based projects. ESB starts with the automated funk of Words For Us, repping the tougher reaches of house with piston kicks and a potent bassline. The harsher elements are softened by soothing pads and occasional tweaks to the bass, but these subtle details can’t help the opener from feeling a little unfinished, its strong central loop never really developing. More appealing is AB2 from Ambien Baby, a collaboration between Sophie Sweetland, aka D. Tiffany, and Daniel Rincon. There’s a soothing aimlessness to the track, whose gurgling atmospherics and echoing synth trills are anchored by softened rave chords.
On the B-side, London duo Metropolitan Soul Museum offer up the most intense cut of the lot with the hammering rhythms of Sun Sun. The rigorous drum patterns are held in check by a gentle acid swell and drifting synth melodies. Though a strong selection, it’s Edmonton local The Paronomasiac (whose electro-pop band, Shout Out Out Out, previously released on Normals Welcome) who effortlessly steals the show on Chill Haze. The structure is pensive deep house but all the accents are electro, from the taut tap of the snare to the eerie overtone above the background ambience. It’s the central melody which is most enchanting – like plucked strings, patient and seductive, bringing an air of mystery to the dancefloor.