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San Francisco Sessions V4: Soundtrack to the Soul

Wednesday, Nov 26 2003
San Francisco made its first real imprint on house music about 12 years ago. Back then, DJ/producers like Mark Farina and the Hardkiss Brothers replaced the opaque mood of the chugging genre's Chicago and New York post-disco origins with a deep-yet-easy sound that reflected S.F.'s more laid-back character. Unfortunately, Ryan Raddon's San Francisco Sessions V4: Soundtrack to the Soul mix as Kaskade for Om Records shows how homogenous and reliant on craft the city's relaxed house formula has become.

There's certainly no denying that craft: The Groove Junkies' trumpet bits on their "Gonna Get By, Pt. 2" and the classic disco sting in singer Latrice Barnett's delivery of "Make My Heart" certainly prick up the ears. And Raddon's tracks as Kaskade and in his other guises (which comprise a third of the mix) definitely showcase his skills as producer, especially "Empty Streets," the delicately stripped-down, late-night track with which he closes the mix. But for all their technical value, these songs -- indeed, all of Raddon's work here as both producer and DJ -- lack any real sense of innovation or daring, and fall safely within San Francisco house's almost institutionalized limits. You can basically go down the checklist with each cut: Gently chiming keyboard chords? Check. Simple funk bass line? Got it. Shuffly uptempo 4/4 rhythm? Well, of course. Soulful female vocalist singing about hope, love, or just how damn great this music is? Done and done.

Those in search of 73 minutes of largely predictable music for sipping Cosmopolitans and picking up mates should step right up to Soundtrack to the Soul. But if you generally cherish dance music's almost primordial instinct to constantly morph and deeply tweak itself, there's precious little of value here.

About The Author

Ron Nachmann


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