Armand Van Helden 'House Masters' review

Defected unleash another monster compilation of house music greatness, with Boston producer Armand Van Helden delivering this time round. Jimmy Coultas reviews.

Becca Frankland

Last updated: 27th Sep 2016.
Originally published: 19th Sep 2016

There's few things that are reliable in 2016, such is the topsy turvy world we live in. One thing you can rely on though is Defected's House Masters compilations, now in it's 27th installment.

Following on from the rather brilliant Todd Terry House Masters from earlier this year comes Armand Van Helden's take, another packed to the rafters collection of house music monsters showcasing just how much of a career the Boston don has had.

There's the chart smashes, which may have deteriorated in quality (to these ears at least) chronologically, but have undisputably slayed dancefloors and radio playlists. The respective collaborations with Dizzee Rascal and A-Trak to produce 'Bonkers' and 'Barbra Streissand' divide opinion in comparison to the still glorious 'U Don’t Know Me', but they've kept AVH on the agenda too - and 'My My My' has aged surprisingly well.

A remix of the recent Defected smash 'Freak like me' from Lee Walker and DJ Deeon shows AVH is still knocking out the grooves, but it's telling that it's completely trumped by another recent Defected smash; the re-release of Tonja Dantzler's 'In and out of my life' from 1993. Where he really delivers though is the tougher hip hop influenced house with which he dominated the 90s with.

Again the obvious ones are here, the speed garage slaying remixes of Tori Amos and Sneaker Pimps, the rough and ready 'Witch Doktor' and the Redman sampling 'The Funk Phenomena'. But it's his utter strength in depth as a producer during this period that really stands out.

Take the glorious 13 minute plus 'Break Night' under his alias The Mole People, an oscillating joy that would sound perfect as the shutters open at Panoramabar, or the primitive adrenaline burst that is 'Break Da 80's', riffing on Run DMC stabs and Slick Rick lyrics. Despite the solid nature of his career since, nothing comes close to these dizzying heights during a decade when he was untouchable. 

Like this? Review: Armand Van Helden Masterpiece compilation.

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