Various Artists - Dessous’ Best Kept Secrets 3 (Dessous)

Double CD from one of the leading house labels around

Released Oct 3rd, 2011 via Dessous / By Adam Corner
Various Artists - Dessous’ Best Kept Secrets 3 (Dessous) Dessous has a reputation for putting out some of the best ‘proper’ house music around at the moment. One of several labels run by the scene stalwart Steve Bug, Dessous specialises in the kind of smooth, jackin’-yet-deep house that still keeps the punters rolling through the door in clubs across Europe. There is nothing especially boundary-pushing about the Dessous sound, but what they do, they do better than pretty much anyone else.

Best Kept Secrets 3 is a two CD release containing one unmixed set of new material from Dessous artists, and a mix of Dessous tracks from the ever-reliable Phonique. Perhaps inevitably, the mixed CD works better than the unmixed collection. This isn’t because the tracks are weaker on the first CD, but because they are built for smooth mixing and blending. This is perfect for creating a pulsing stream of rhythms in a club set, but it detracts from their value when you listen to the whole thing from start to finish (too much intro/outro going on). The temptation to only pay attention to the ‘good bits’ becomes almost irresistible – but then maybe that says more about the dwindling attention span of the average dance music consumer than the quality of the music itself.

Highlights on the first CD include the pulsating slow-build magic of Burnski’s 'Sometimes Takes Longer', and the modulated synth ‘n’ vocals of Steve Bug’s contribution, 'Do It Right'. Although much of the Dessous output is subtle and sophisticated (rather than big-room business), by the time the Phonique mix reaches its climax, we’re in the hands-in-the-air zone. Langenberg’s 'Past Present' offers a spooky take on the classic wailing vocal sample, and the mix rounds up with the looming brass sample of Goldwill’s 'Nachtzug'. It might not be the freshest sound on the block, but it’s a master class in how to sculpt a house mix without relying on Big Tunes to prop it up.