Roche – Depths / Seers

Whenever I come across a new Icee Hot release, there’s always something about the artwork that just screams, pick me up! For the busy label’s latest release, a big neon tennis ball that adorns the sleeve is that voice in the speaker. The San Francisco label has had a good run of late with excellent releases by Bobby B and Ghosts on Tape, and I was very excited to hear what exactly a giant tennis ball could sound like. Roche was the answer, no not the pharmaceutical company of infamous repute, but the alias of Ben Winans, the newest edition to the Icee Hot roster. After a successful string of releases on 100% silk and Mathematics, the San Franciscan producer presents two excellent arrangements for the dance floor on his newest 12”.

Depths clocks in just over 11 minutes and whenever faced with a dance track of this length, the listener could quite quickly fatigue under the duress of sacrificing that much time for the sake of a repetitive house track. On this occasion however it is warranted as the development throughout its course never dulls or falls victim to improvisational tactics. Depths propels along its course with a series of schizophrenic synthesizers that offer only the simplest of repetitive melodies, arranged to get the most out of each part for the sake of holding even the most scattered listener’s deficient attention. It focuses on integral parts at various times as they adapt to their newly appointed situation with a cleverly modulating filter or a scattered delay. It’s amazing how at times a reverb can completely change the character of a piece of percussion. Depths manages to plummet through the miasma of liquid synths and acid warbling motifs to a captivating percussive programme that could easily be enjoyed in its entirety. But if you don’t have that much time to invest in a single track, Seers is on the flipside and its cut from the same cloth, albeit a slightly shorter fit.

The focus is still very much on the dance floor, and those enticing sonic atmospheres that adorned the A side are repeated with a slightly harder edge. As with Depths, Seers comes by way of an entrancing House arrangement that takes its listener through a journey of space-age synthesis and a simple filter bass-line that could have easily been transplanted to any electro-house track circa 2004. It’s punctuated however with a heavy kick that comes straight out of the Techno manual, while some novel ideas like reverse hats chop and change along the course of the track. This 12” makes for an inspiring approach to the dance floor, one that does not rely on the instantaneously gratifying hook or vocal sample. It rewards the invested listener with slight of modulations in the sounds dotted along extensive arrangements without losing any of its functional objectives. As a result it fits in comfortably amongst the rest of the Icee Hot catalogue, a glowing neon-green example of what can be achieved in the more adventurous corners of the dance floor.