Tuff City Kids
Until now, the Tuff City Kid pairing of Philip Lauer and Gerd Janson has proved to be an intriguing prospect restricted to the realm of remix commissions. Lauer has of course been musically operating for over a decade, from early releases on Real Soon and the now defunct Kompakt offshoot Punkt, before coming to prominence as part of Arto Mwambe. Most recently, Lauer delivered his debut solo album Phillips, for Janson’s Running Back imprint, which risen into one of the most dependable outlets for off – centre house.
Janson, meanwhile is a journalist who has built a sturdy reputation as a DJ off the back of overseeing the label, though his studio exploits have been more limited – his only other ventures in production have been several remixes with Curio under the Pink Alert banner. Now the Tuff City Kids enter the realm of original productions with their first EP proper, landing with aplomb on Ostgut-Ton’s freshly minted sub-label Unterton. In the same way that Ostgut have a knack for delivering the prime of peak time fodder with brains and brawn in equal measure, so this release ticks all the necessary boxes for a deadly package of beefcake house music.
“SFS” wastes no time in playing its trump card; a glossy, thick synth line that pulses all the way through the track while the bottom end comes on all rugged and antsy. Thankfully the hats keep things on course, allowing the lead melodics the freedom to extrapolate into psychedelic peaks and troughs. As something of an antithesis, “Bias” exercises an air of restraint, letting a simple beat unfold while a tense string edges in from the side. After a light smattering of sliced vocals, the real meat of the track comes bowling in; a fearsome techno line that growls in the lower register, imbued with the DNA of dub but twisted to a malevolent intent. It’s deadly in its precision, deployed for functionality but a wonder in its form as well.
Keeping up the dark side theme for the second half of the B-side, “Begger” kicks off on some booming Chicago drums slowed down to a modern cruise, but once again it’s a powerful lead synth that rules the day. Creeping in under a heavy filter that keeps it plodding around in the bottom end, as the true evil spirit of the melody gets revealed a beautiful party monster is born. It’s just the right side of sinister, maintaining an allure that would corrupt even the purest of minds.
There’s no need to pontificate on the deeper meaning of tracks like these. They’re built with a clear purpose in mind, and executed with the skill of those who know what truly works on the dancefloor without dipping the quality.