Review Summary: Late Night Alumni move from the empty streets to main street
At its most basic and primitive, house music is nothing more than music for the moment, aural bliss distilled and then released in short and entrancing bursts. In its most simplistic form the genre is the simple continuation of one of the 70's most dubious of landmarks: disco. Both are fueled by funk tendencies, and both represent amicable departures that begin on the dancefloor, and end right where they began. Musically there's nothing of adequate substance that merits such a comparison, it's more of an ideal shared by like minded musicians that's been allowed to nurture and grow over the better part of thirty odd years. But they both still work in the same way, both still turn nightclubs and dancefloors into something entirely different, as if there's a group of people ready and waiting to replace the surrounding walls with blank canvases, empty backgrounds that come to life and move in unison to every sway and wave that radiates through your body. Cut away all the unnecessary fat that's built up around the genre over the years, file away garage house and “fidget” under distant cousins; peel away all those layers until only the original bodice remains and you'll see what I mean, how the simplest beat mixed in with a little flair and flirtation can do so much. And lying right next to that beating heart of house lies Late Night Alumni, Kaskade's ultra-chic side project, blessed by his subtle yet ethereal intricacies and Becky Jean Williams' angelic and sultry vocals.
Theirs is a style combined of various loves and delights; floating hints of jazz, dream pop, trip hop and deep house all come together to create one of the more colorful and hypnotic entries into a world always on the lookout for that next fragile journey. And fragile is essentially the key word here; Late Night Alumni have always been the wind down as opposed to the party-starter, they're the smooth descent back to reality, the accompaniment to a come down. As bouncy and becoming as the group can be when they go on full assault, they will be always be the soundtrack for the hazy and lazy beginnings of a new day. Late Night Alumni are well aware of their place in the scheme of things; as such they never stray too far from their comfort zone, there's no daring escapades into territories that they don't possess maps for, no fruitful endeavors to potentially punch above their own weight. Their brand of candy coated sonic release is theirs alone, and no one really handles it better. Be it Kaskade's deft touch at work, constantly jumping through reinvigorating anthems and more reminiscing tones of soft trip hop lullabies, or Becky Jean's vixen like vocals, theirs is a cocktail best served in the wee hours.
To be fair, nothing has changed drastically since the release of Empty Streets
, but when it's this infectious and hypnotizing is there really any need to mix up the formula? So in saying that, Haunted
plays out like any definitive sequel should; the chilled house beats still sit side by side with the more cradling aspects of their laidback downtempo reprieves, and the marriage of these two components is still as deliciously vibrant as it was on their first outing. Opener 'It's Not Happening' kicks thing off in high fashion with its on-point percussion and subtle backdrop of keys and swells, and 'This Is Why' substitutes the dancefloor extremities for acoustic guitars and a slow anchor of a beat. 'Angels & Angles' is the obvious digression from the now standard formula; with its jittery like backbeat all aflutter and fidgety, the dual vocals harmonic in their tandem approach as they fight for purchase over the swelling strings. But perhaps the two main standouts are 'Main Street' and 'Spin'; both tracks occupying the more relaxed state of mind for the group, the first a beat-less pool of shimmering keys and cresting violins, and the second an exercise in Sunday afternoon daydreaming with its lounge like anchoring and hazy crescendos.
won't win Late Night Alumni any awards, and it won't be enough to convert the unfaithful, but for the devout it's another excursion into tripped out and dreamlike house music. The ideal accompaniment for stargazing when the nightclub becomes the nearest rooftop, Haunted
continues the group's tradition of hiding this undeniable yet subtle energy to their beat crafting. Equal points flirtatious and reclusive, Haunted
will forever remain best served chilled, and after dark.