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Get Physical co-founder DJ T. returns with his second album, The Inner Jukebox, a singular and accomplished set that reflects its maker’s ongoing interest in rigorously re-inventing classic sounds for modern ears and dancefloors. After four years of 12” releases and collaborative experiments, DJ T.’s full-length follow-up to 2005‘s Boogie Playground is upon us. While Boogie Playground was an exploration of T.’s 70s and 80s influences, a melting-pot of styles that touched upon electro, disco, italo and funk, The Inner Jukebox draws inspiration from the 90s and is a more focussed adventure – it’s T.’s vision of house music as it should be. So much “house” around right now is really just glorified minimal techno, vibe-killing in its meticulousness; by contrast, the tracks which comprise The Inner Jukebox are bold, vivid, expressive. They’re cerebral and carefully crafted, yes, but more importantly they have a bounce and a sexiness to them. T. has always sought to make proper, no-nonsense dance music with real groove at its heart - and The Inner Jukebox finds him fully realizing that ambition. Produced with Thomas Schumacher, who used to helm Elektrochemie and now produces acclaimed solo material for Get Physical, The Inner Jukebox is an assuredly mature work, but is notable also for its youthful exuberance and confidence. This is no concept album – it’s about quality dance music that will sound great in the club, the car, the home, wherever. The album opens with its title track, a deep, atmospheric piece replete with dubby chords and shuffling, brushed snares; even without a kickdrum, the tension is built up beautifully with sampled, wordless voice-fragments - a recurring feature throughout the album. Drawing upon the vast record collection and sound-archive which he has built up over the years, T. samples human voices and cuts them up so that they no longer convey words but rather act as percussive, syllabic stabs. This technique is employed to dramatic effect on ‘Dis’, a track that’s been getting incredible reactions when road-tested in the club, thanks in no small part to the relentless, conga-like percussion which brings a Latin swing to proceedings; the later track ‘Bateria’ is explicitly samba-influenced. On all The Inner Jukebox’s songs you can really hear the time and care that T. and Schumacher have put into their drum programming – the weight and heft of those beats is spot-on, their arrangement spacious, their grain detailed but not unduly fussed over. The two producers come from different musical backgrounds. Though his origins are in techno and Detroit sound, in recent years Schumacher has fallen in love with house, its whole grammar and aesthetic. With T. as his guide, that love has deepened; it finds its full expression on The Inner Jukebox. The duo found they had a real chemistry in creating the album, a mutual understanding of what they want from music; and together they’ve developed their own finely-tuned and versatile production language. As always with T.’s work there is a classicism on show, a deep respect for the history of dance music and what has gone before. The Inner Jukebox celebrates in particular the simple elegance and vivacity of 90s house and techno, but never resorts to mere homage. See the phasing ‘Mr Piano Hands’ and the fantastically upbeat anthem-in-waiting ‘Shine On’, a triumphant melding of ultra-modern modulation and decidedly retro rave vamps. As with its predecessor Boogie Playground, samples abound on The Inner Jukebox, giving it a subtle electro and hip-hop flavour that’s all too rare in house these days. ‘Lit From Within’, a swirl of disembodied vocals and phased horns, is pure drama; ‘Weirdo’ enthrals with its glitched funk patterns and ‘Gorilla Hug’ - all jacking drums and heavy, double-tracked bassline - is every bit as powerful as its title suggests. Crucially, whatever stylistic avenues the album pursues, the distinct fingerprint of DJ T. can always be felt. The Inner Jukebox’s robust, sensuous harks back to a time before house music splintered into a million different micro-scenes and genres; its tune aren’t made just for “peaktime” or “after-hours” or “warm-up”, they’re made for any time. There’s such a clarity of vision to them, every element sounds deliberate – and yet for all its attention to detail, The Inner Jukebox still gives the listener room to breathe; rejecting clinical feel of so much recent club music for a sound more soulful, more intuitive, more three-dimensional. So put another dime in the jukebox baby…

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The Inner Jukebox (CD Version)

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