Dekmantel, the Amsterdam-based events company, record label and artist agency, is celebrating its first five years with a series of releases from its roster of family and friends. With tracks from acts who’ve released on the label and played at the group’s parties, it promises to be an intriguing collection of house and techno goodies. Juju & Jordash contribute African Flower (Cosmic Dub), and it is simply delightful. It’s all about the bassline, a simple one-bar phrase repeated ceaselessly for the duration of the track. Built around this solid foundation are virtuoso piano expressions, guitar flourishes and, fittingly, cosmic flutters. The xylophone and marimba jabs just add to the uncomplicated, life-affirming joy of this track. If this sounds like hyperbole, go listen to it. I defy you not to smile as this extended jam grows as it adds layer upon layer of decoration. There’s one guitar line about six minutes in that almost seems to drift in and out of tune, but that only adds to the charm of the piece. All of sudden, nine minutes in, bam – a blast of piano – and then it’s back to the bassline, which by this point has shifted up a few octaves and has become an entirely different element – and then it stops. Suddenly. Ten minutes just isn’t enough.
Impulse, by Morphosis, initially seems a different beast, though in truth it’s the perfect counterpoint to the laidback grooves of African Flower. Similar in its focused bassline, it’s faster, more driven and more intense. Frantic hi-hats perforate a series of meandering keyboard lines, as electronic maracas pulse and propel the track forward. Taken in isolation, both tracks are sublime pieces of downtempo house and driving techno. Together, they offer a tantalising glimpse as to what the next four EPs in this series will offer, not to mention the next five years of Dekmantel.