Deep and soulful house from ’94, produced by Lee Rodrigues (a.k.a. Mr Onester) and Steven Craden as The African Dream for Alex Caplan’s Eightball Records. Alongside releases on other NY house labels such as Strictly Rhythm, Movin’, Oxygen Music Works, Wheel and Next Plateau Records, Rodrigues and Craden helped to bolster the underground garage house scene of the 90’s under the names Virtual Soul, Children Of A Deeper Society, Element Of Life, House Of Blue and State Of Mind. Despite being fickle with their aliases, the Brooklyn based duo recorded many of their great records, including this album, at local studio ‘The Asylum’.
‘All The Same Family’ kicks off the first record at the deep end with a punchy breakbeat. Next, ‘Your In My Soul’ closes the ‘1st Dream’ with brassy chords and softer percussion. The ‘2nd Dream’ begins with loops of chopped up vocals and a walking bassline in ‘Jazz Impressions’. The succeeding ‘Young & Free’ starts with a deep groove and shifty drums, then builds into a harmonious symphony of vocal samples, horns and backing vocals.
The tempo is pushed up on the second record as ‘African Dreams’ bombards you with drums, whistles and excited calls of “Africa!”. ‘Black Thoughts’ is more stripped back than the noisy previous track, making use of a funky walking bassline and complemented by a harsh kick drum and vocal slices.
On the flip is the grand finale: deep house bliss. ‘African Spirits’ is beautifully balanced, driven and keeps you hooked till the last beat. I love when the synth washes away and you’re left with only the percussion and a man chanting the name of the Motherland. It puts me into a meditative state made possible by such captivating loopy music. Another perfect example is the next track ‘Making A Living’. 20th Century Steel Band’s ‘Heaven and Hell is on Earth‘ is sampled over a warm garage house beat to create an emotive and evocative ending to ‘The African Dream’, particularly when melancholic horns are added to the closing climax. The song oozes soul and is a magnificent send off to one of my favourite records.