We're told this is "most likely" the last album from the Chicago collective, but they're signing off in style
Since 1996, Chicago veterans Boo Williams and Glenn Underground have headed up the loose musical collective known variously as Strictly Jaz Unit, The Strictly Jaz Unit, The S.J.U and The S.J.U Project. Sadly, we're told this long-player on their own Strictly Jaz Unit Muzic is likely to be their last... but rest assured they're going out with a bang, not a whimper.
The album is an eight-track affair, presented on doublepack 12-inch vinyl for maximum DJ playability. Opener Tempestuous is a melodic (but not in the progressive house sense!), keys-led number with just a hint of Middle Eastern influence, and sets the tone for the all-instrumental album nicely. Near The End rocks Afro beats and ker-razy analogue synth doodles, while Time Of Speed Not Day takes us on an eyes-down tribal trip to the heart of the 3am dancefloor. There's a little more funk in the veins of The Struggle, while Heard Syndrome, a concoction of shakers, keys and 303-like bass, reminds us that deep house began in Chicago in the first place. That Hour, with its plangent geetar, is a more blissed-out, post-club kinda cut, and oddly reminiscent of early System 7 for those that can remember that far back, while The Flat London Projects blends deep, acid and electro tropes in a sun-up friendly kinda way. The album's then completed by a dose of good old-fashioned acid house in the form of Passing You By.
That's just a quick and highly impressionistic/subjective whistlestop tour, though! A better way of describing The Tempest would probably be to say that, blending many shades of of classic Chicago house with a hint of Detroit techno, and delivering it all with thoroughly 21st Century production panache, it's an album that finds two past masters of the game on absolutely peak form, and as such is recommended listening for anyone who likes their electronic music to appeal to the feet and the mind in equal measure.
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: 21 June
Review Score: 8