Deep Voices #59
Music I'd like to hear played outside under a very specific set of circumstances
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Soul Summit is a long running house music dance party in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park, three blocks from where Allegra and I lived with Renzo. The party used to be weekly before it was cut down to twice a summer. Lessening the number of events made each one huge, the small dance floor totally packed, people strewn across the park in lawn chairs, vendors selling records, incense, nutcrackers. Since the pandemic, though the DJs who play the event have performed at different venues, the party has not happened at all in its home base. Today is the first one back. I’m writing this at home on Sunday afternoon. The party just started.
Allegra and I went to that last party in 2019, as per usual. She was pregnant with Renzo and stayed on the sidelines of the dance floor while I waded in to get swallowed by the crowd. I remember taking photos of her from afar. Her belly was just starting to show. She was wearing an oversized white cotton dress, I was wearing tie dye. I don’t usually do that, but it seemed fun.
Historically, listening to dance music outside with lots of people has been a favorite life event. Years ago, after chugging a beer on the dancefloor of the Warm Up event in the courtyard of PS1 in Queens, I looked up to see a woman wearing a T-shirt that said in big block letters, “You are a lovely dancer.” What a sentiment! I took it personally and I took it to heart.
My desire to be around people letting loose, people celebrating, has—I think understandably—diminished since Renzo died. It’s hard to feel relaxed in big crowds, hard to feel a part of unbridled joy. Being around so much unfettered pleasure can cause our pain to multiply by isolation.
Still, my desire to hear really loud music played from great speakers in agreeable weather has not abated. I just wish there was a very specific set of circumstances: minimal people and a sense of happiness imbued with tentativeness, an awareness of the precipice we all live in and in which some of us have fallen over. Also, I’d like to choose all the songs. Which is what this newsletter is. So I did that part. Below, you can read about why these are some favorites I’d like to hear. I’m putting my desires into the world. Any DJs and/or party promoters who want to make my dreams come true, get in touch.
Big Strick’s “48 Hours” from an EP very wonderfully called Simple Pleasures may be the thesis track here. Simple, midpace, deep, ecstatic. The drums sound like a horse clomping through dirt on a triumphant ride. There’s a touch of acid house’s sourness, but just a touch. The chords are as warm as bathwater. I want to hear this at dusk.
Last year, Sofia Kourtesis released a deservedly widely beloved song, “La Perla.” Sultry and rising, it’s house music that seemed like it could soundtrack the before-times flashback in a Claire Denis movie. Something to do with water, with beautiful people in the sun, pure connection between people. Her remix of Perel’s “Matrix” is similarly buoyant, though its source material is a bit more sinister. Kourtesis takes the Blade Runner-ishness out of “Matrix” and adds an egg shaker and some faraway-sounding wooden percussion. There’s more tension than “La Perla,” but the remix retains her signature bouyancy. Dusk for this one, too. Or may just after, when it’s night but not too late. I don’t sleep too well so I go to bed early.
I pretended I was a DJ when making this mix. Would it be too bold to begin a set with “Sqala 3” I wondered? It starts straight away with a battering of hefty drums that repeats for nearly nine minutes. There’s no easing in. (If I was a real DJ I would probably transition into another song halfway through but that’s not how streaming works.) But there’s something incantatory about the track, and that kind of escapist witchcraft I’d like to experience in my highly specialized dance scenario. How wonderful it would be to disappear.
Not every song on here is about escapism however. “Harmony” by Jennifer Mayanja (missing from Apple Music) and “Stolen Moments” by Mr. G are present and soulful. The guitar and hand drums in “Harmony,” ostensibly a house track, give it a raw disco feel. “Stolen Moments” traffics in the same organic textures but long moans of regret lend the song a tinge of heartbreak. It’s the second to last song; you’re sad it’s almost time to go home.
I thought it might be nice to have a moment of comedown, so this mix’s last song is arguably not dance music at all. It does however come from a master maker of it. The Danish producer Courtesy is largely known for being a proponent of “fast techno,” which basically does what it says on the tin. With this spring’s Night Journeys EP, however, she slows things way down, making four tracks that blend ambient music, modular synthesizer noodling, and Julianna Barwick style vocal experimentalism. “Night Journey’s II” is the type of post-post-post-modern soundscape that feels dropped in from a more blessed AI future. Maybe there is a benign Matrix kind of situation out there for us. Maybe it sounds like this, unhurried, but with a steadily beating heart. If the dance floor is about getting in touch with yourself in order to free yourself, this is where you go when you are finally peaceful enough to escape.
Promoters and DJ’s get on it - I can see this list sitting on the rooftops of my hometown of Lisbon. Resting, not resisting, and moving all at the same time.
Beautiful, epic words- promoters make this happen! Also the Majanya track (spelled “Jenifa”): https://music.apple.com/us/album/harmony/253508804?i=253509456