There’s something innately appealing about experiencing house music done right, about reveling in the sound that reminds you of why you fell in love with this stuff in the first place. If the rhythm, the bassline, vocal samples and the rest — along with any number of ineffable elements — align correctly, the experience can be sort of like that Proust-madeleine thing, transporting you back the most beautiful dreamland adventures of your earliest dance-floor days. LadyMonix, the Detroit-by-way-of-Baltimore DJ and producer who’s released a string of rock-solid cuts over the past few years, finds that sweet spot more often than most. She’s done so again with her latest, the ‘Club Nowhere’ EP.
LadyMonix’s general modus operandi is blazingly direct: a straightforward drum pattern and bassline, a couple of chords, and just a smidgen of extra elements placed within the mix. It’s the original house-music template, but it still works a treat, and ‘Club Nowhere’ is a prime example of how effective that format can be. The title track is a pensive little number, with a descending synth line and plaintive flute coupled with crisp piano strikes that lend the tune a vaguely melancholy air despite its inherent oomph; the hovering chords, skeletal piano runs and insistent accents of the restrained ‘Mood’ are imbued with the same vibe.
Tunes like these, as with anything else that hints at the freedoms of prepandemic life, can generate an odd sense of bittersweet nostalgia.
On the flip, ‘Movin’ On’ is a tight little groover, a pure-of-heart house cut that needs little more than its rubbery bassline, quartet of crisp chords and a few well-placed vocal snippets to work its magic. The best of the bunch might be ‘Gonna Let’: a dreamy pair of Rhodes chords, a propulsive synthbass, some perky bits of filigree and a few nicely-sliced vocal samples, and off you go. Like the rest of ‘Club Nowhere,’ it’s simple but beautifully effective.
Tunes like these, as with anything else that hints at the freedoms of prepandemic life, can generate an odd sense of bittersweet nostalgia. Listening to built-for-dancing music on headphones while lounging on your sofa in your PJs can always feel a bit discombobulating, but up until this past March there was always the knowledge that you could hit the clubs to experience the music in its natural environment whenever you wanted. To some degree, ‘Club Lonely’ is a reminder of the fissure in our lives that we’re all experiencing. But there can also be an opposite effect. Music like this can also remind us that better days await, that someday we’ll in the club together, having fun like there’s no tomorrow. And for now, we can always dance on our sofas, right?