Rarely has a straight-up house album posed so many ifs, buts, or maybes. Chambray’s ‘Reliev’ is essentially about the balance between low frills and uncompromising maximums; tech-house that rarely disobeys André Rost’s drill sergeant orders from the first beat.
‘Reliev’ is a perfectly functional, accessible, usable collection of house where kick drum is king, though this is no jackhammer techno expo. It’s for a very particular clientele wanting beats that are up for a fight, but don’t want any trouble either; hence it mustn’t be too gurn-worthy, which is something that Chambray achieves, almost inexplicably. It’s minimalist, but definitely not scientific, nor gangly, ashen or waspish: bulging basics comes in full colour — Chambray never hides in darkness. Fans will crave melody, but nothing that outstays its welcome; something vocal that lights a fire, but not to the point of becoming a karaoke piece. Niche house construction indeed: and yet it remains debatable whether it has something for the whole DJ network.
As a stomping system automated for those turned on by dancefloor tunnel vision, human emotion seldom comes into it. Law and order prevails, on ‘Livin’ and ‘Want It Back’, a tough toe-to-toe with robo foes. Of the occasional glances to the side, ‘Cerulean’ is a flash forward of classic house tropes, all nimble stabs, handclaps and degrees of euphoria. ‘Jers’ is of a deeply filtered funk, though ‘Qt Wit Da Bty’ is an unintentionally peculiar, happy-ghetto house concoction.
You’re reasoning that Chambray should be applauded for not deviating, for where his workstation posture remains fixed. Others would’ve dropped off and taken in an obligatory spaced out interlude, or a look-what-else-I-can-do instrumental; ‘Reliev’ kicks until the cows come home. Bang on cue, he drops the tempo and ups the slickness to close the album with ‘Treat Yo Self’. The overall reaction should probably be, for best results, don’t overthink it.
Words: Matt Oliver
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