Review Summary: Wherever you are, you're dancing.
There's a familiar line of armchair philosophy concerning the negative affect of the internet on music, and sadly there's sod all anyone can do about it. A producer like Kassem Mosse can squirm all he likes in the spotlight of database culture but it can only delay the inevitable. Whether he picks a name easy to misspell or bleats about the importance of keeping dance music in parties or not, his releases are still documented on Discogs; they're still filed and categorised and rated by the kind of spotty shut-in who wouldn't dream of ever contributing to the culture it's created for; I'm still reviewing Workshop 19
It's then very important to note, as an extension to this attitude, that Workshop 19
is not necessarily concerned with how it will sound on your bookshelf or -god ***ing forbid- laptop speakers. The producer's first "real" LP builds on a long legacy of mixes, singles, compilations and EPs to deliver an album chock-full of deep, steady dance-floor house. Slow build ups and stretched out repetition are to be expected because at its core this is a release to dance to, and anyone vaguely familiar with the Berlin techno/house scene will find it more than enjoyable in that regard.
At the same time, the 10 minute wind-down we might as well refer to as "Untitled D1" is still managing to do some excellent work to the atmosphere of my bedroom. With its slow baselines, quiet, quirky melodies and field-recording outro you might be mistaken for thinking Kassem's finally caved to the internet audience. Similar thoughts might be directed at the equally well named "Untitled A2," which contains a level of subtlety unfamiliar to the chewing, mandy'd up party-goers he would otherwise seem to have in mind.
So let's forget this and any other scene we could bring in and focus on the fact Workshop 19
contains some of the best house music in recent memory. By completely rejecting the lighter, cheesier mutation of the genre, the listener is treated to pulsating 4/4 loops with plenty of understated bass to either bob your head to or "critically appreciate" from an Ikea desk-chair. Kassem's style is hypnotic: incorporating sporadic, almost sketchy synths in the latter half of "B2" and much more dramatic turns in "A2" with the confidence of someone who spends more time around a dancefloor than at home. It's unlike a house album to be surprising, but Kassem seems to find the possibility of dance in everything.
So go out and dance or have it on while reading: it doesn't really matter. Workshop 19
shows a veteran producer at top form for the entirety of a full length album and that isn't something that comes along too often. Whether intended to or not, it's able to be enjoyed anywhere. The only requirement is a listener able to recognise some bloody good dance music.