WHERE WE AT.
Last month, the fantastic Dance music resource RA reviewed some of the best mixes over of the last decade. The list (here) showed the depth and breadth of Noughties Dance Music, it’s adventuorusness and rejection of the 1990’s superclub cul-de-sac. This was a decade that bought us the filthy fashioness of Electroclash, (anyone who ever went to a Electric Stew event would attest to that) the smooth Germanic innovations of Minimal House/Techno (pioneered by Kompakt, Get Physical et al) and the re-birth of Deep House and Dalston’s blast of Underground Disco. Of all the standout tracks that these genres spawned, there is still one that stands above all others it’s a track that blended the most interesting parts of many of Deep House, Techno and Minimal, that looked back as well as being gloriously futuristic, yet outside of Dance Music’s borders, criminally overlooked. This is Where We At. In 2005, two German producers, under the guise of Âme, released Rej. A huge club hit, at the time, it presaged a return of the melodic dominance of Deep House, long dormant since the mid 90’s, with the minimal stylings of Booka Shade. Still to this day, it is hard to pinpoint what this music is, from Minmal Techno to Tech House, labels came and went to suit people as they pleased. At the same time, Dixon, another member of the Sonar Kollectiv team was setting up the Innervisions label, which would become the eventual home for Âme, Tokyo Black Star, Marcus Worgull and Henrik Schwarz, who formed the core DJ’s and producers of this genre. The fifth release on Innervisions was a collaboration between Henrik Schwarz, Dixon and Âme, Where We At.
Sampling a spiky aggresive vocal line from Derrick L. Carter some four years previous, the three versions of Where We At take the rather desolate vocal and frame it around a groove that is both foreboding and moody yet hypnotic and wound tight with an infectious groove. It elevates the vocal to a manifesto, lines like ‘Is this all there is to life?’ take on darkly comic feel when you imagine where this track was meant to played, at peak time in small clubs and beachside summers, at the height of an individuals or collective’s losing it in the music. Where We At works as a fulcrum track, it perfectly sums up a time when Dance music wasn’t just hands in your air lunacy, it could be clever, it could comment, it critique, without losing it’s ability to move you in a serious serious way. A rare feat, and helps explain why Dance Music has approached the 10’s in good creative health, if not brilliant financial health.
Two other brilliant places to hear Where We At in context are Dixon’s live mix from 2006 as well as Henrik Schwarz’s Live (2007), which took the attitude, style and flourishes and transposed it through a live set that fuses Sun Ra and James Brown with the most forward thinking parts of the Innervisions sound. It stands as a great showcase for what Where We At represents, a brilliant combination of melody, groove and electronica still is as fresh as anything from Dance music in 2010.
Henrik Schwarz, Dixon & Âme – Where We At (Version Nº1)