18.12.09

Review: Underground Quality & Deconstruct present The Club House


11/28/09: Love, NYC

[ Written for Resident Advisor ]

The black metal door next to the dry cleaner’s on MacDougal Street looked innocuous by day and unlicensed by night. Around eleven, black-clothed bouncers stood outside with a short velvet rope. New York was warm that night, two days after Thanksgiving, and the boroughs supplied recreation in plenty. The ardent heart of underground house fixated on Manhattan’s Love, behind the unmarked entrance; a destination for bass worship with a record collector’s rec-room for a dancefloor.


Inside, well-worn stairs led downward past a cashier’s cubbyhole to the front barroom bathed in red. Many people, black figures backlit by a counterfeit ice wall, appeared to know each other. And over the din, a wiry DJ played vinyl and never looked up for approval. The Shaft theme blared through the bathroom speakers as the color spectrum warped in and out. From the plush-lined VIP room, a Lewis Carroll-style holding tank (where Alice in the black bustier drank her share of potion), a Dutchman emerged and he noticed with curiosity, “I usually listen to faster house music.” Lips pursed and bottle hoisted, it was time to branch out.


“Welcome, welcome, welcome,” Jus-Ed announced in his seasoned radio voice, “After eight years we’ve finally made it to the next level!” Far from House-N-Home in Brooklyn, Love on Saturday night was the start of a new regular party for NYC labels Underground Quality and Deconstruct, called “The Club House.” The team: Jus-Ed (Underground Quality), Anthony Parasole (Deconstruct), DJ Qu (Strength Music), and Fred P (Black Jazz Consortium, Soul People Music). They worked the room with a certain ramshackle precision, in airbrushed t-shirts, and handed out the first Club House mix CDs, plus Underground Quality's Minimal Soul Part 2 on purple vinyl, and the latest scorching Deconstruct EP by DJ Qu, Party People Clap.



On the landing, a bleary-eyed DJ Qu socialized while he waited for the next rotation, easy to spot with his name in yellow and blue on the back of his Club House jersey. He took to the decks and plied those stuck to low-lying tables with the soul clangor of C.B. Funk’s “Subway To Cologne,” on the elusive German label Story. The room remained at a purposeful simmer for a while. Gradually, the Underground Quality All-Stars turned up the heat: Round Two's "New Day," the Main Street Records classic from '95, and Strictly Rhythm circa ’92 drew more people from the fringes to the floor. Spotlights beamed, metronomic, on dual disco balls to keep time for the dancers, and in the booth a rack of VU meters traveled from green to red. Through the clouds of machine smoke the lighting guy smiled, satisfied, in opaque shades and leather.



Jus-Ed reached for a white record sleeve that read "Yes – Hot!" in blue sharpie, and it was another deep dub house track, deeper and more in dub than the last, with an aching vocal that said "break your heart." "What is that track?" "It's this guy from New York - keep it in the family you know." Fred P's eyes got large as he took the night up a notch with his own "Blacklight," a thumping selection for the smoke and white shirts rendered purple. Parasole leaned forward into the delay, “However do you want me…” and flanged back, “However do you need me.” From the Soul II Soul vocal, altered to angelic effect, he mixed expediently back into his and Fred P’s remix of DJ Qu’s “Party People Clap.” Apropos to the title: That’s what happened.



The four of them played past 6:00 AM, a crossbred set that included some undeniably deep records from this year: Patrice Scott's low-end reveille "Excursions" on Sistrum Detroit, Argy’s perfect escape “Let Me Out,” and Resoe’s recent “Cosmic Blast” on Baum. One person enthused about the program’s healthy bass “like bfffffff…” and pushed his hands toward the ground. With a proper system and sensuous music, the first installment of The Club House had Parasole’s ideal “dope vibe and positive energy.” And as Jus-Ed put it on the mix: “Look we’re tryin’ to do this thing, and we’re doin’ the thing.”