Rodney Hunter 

The Hunter Files

What's this? An album of soulful dance music that doesn't drop insipid neo-soul vocals on top of tired dance loops and mind-deadening 4/4 beats? Kruder & Dorfmeister's label, G-Stone, saves house from itself with the release of the superb Hunter Files, a debut from Austrian dance music producer Rodney Hunter.

A longtime member of the neo-dub scene in Austria (and an occasional collaborator with K&D), Hunter makes it all look (and sound) so easy. Files blends a range of sounds and textures -- from dub to funky soul, hip-hop, bossa nova, and rare groove -- but it's the bass lines that set the album apart, elastic and thick, borrowing heavily from space funk and reggae. They're fused with housey vocal hooks, horn flourishes, and dub chamber echoes.

Hunter clearly grasps that bass is the master. The understated vocals on Files range from frenetic rapping to whispery echoes, yet never overwhelm the album's undulating lows. He's equally adept with his effects, deploying flute riffs, hand claps, and bubbly pops that accentuate rather than crowd out the deeper parts of the mix. The result is a pure dancefloor record that feels exploratory rather than relentless, and Hunter Files ends up being nothing less than a house music breakthrough.

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