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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

"Paradigm" is my kind of deep house

CamelPhat are leaders of the style now, and I saw it coming with this 2015 production.

The house music connoisseur is back with another choice selection from his extensive listening library... but this selection has a different flavor from what I normally bring to the table.

The vast majority of the tracks I've covered that I file under the "Dance / Electronic" category (22 of which fall primarily under that umbrella) are high-energy house productions, typically in the progressive house sub-genre. Through leading figures in the 2010s house scene like Swedish House Mafia — whose April 15 album Paradise Again I eagerly await — I became enamored with progressive house, and for close to a decade now it has been my favorite strand of electronic music. However, starting around 2015, I also gained an appreciation for the "deeper" side of house.

Slower, soulful, and less reliant on driving percussion, deep house never got the mainstream love that its progressive younger brother did. It's no wonder, then, that I only came around to it after my initial progressive indoctrination. It's also no wonder, given the qualities I've listed, that it's often a friendlier nighttime listen than other house sub-genres (though I warn against using it as a bedtime playlist, because it's often still very danceable).

Interestingly enough, it was through Swedish House Mafia member Axwell and his Axtone label that I came to know one of my favorite deep house tracks, which I present to you today as my 192nd Senior Year Soundtrack selection. CamelPhat's "Paradigm," featuring A*M*E, has an icy depth to it that has hooked me for seven-plus years. Its live-sounding snare and its music box-esque top synth line frequently embed it in my head for hours if not days after I listen to it.

I mentioned when I wrote about Elderbrook's "Inner Light" last week that I expected to feature a CamelPhat production at some point, and this was the track I had in mind all along. The word that comes to mind when I think or hear of "Paradigm" is hypnotic. The opening atmosphere does a lot to impart that feeling, with reverb-heavy vocal chops and a dreamy synth pad over a breakbeat that features that lively snare I mentioned above. Throughout the track, that snare cuts through like few do in that genre, making the upbeats feel very strong even when other percussion drops out. When the kick drum ushers in the house beat a short while later, it and the synths that enter alongside it introduce a legitimate groove — not one that gets you jumping like a lot of house does, but once that gets you really dancing (or at least attempting to dance, in my case). The dreaminess is then furthered by the lead synth, which I finally placed on a recent listen as reminding me of a music box.

The track then yields to singer A*M*E (known known by her last name, KABBA), who more than introduces that characteristic soul I find essential to deep house. Over a bed of strings, her attacks on off-beat sixteenth notes make her vocals rhythmically stand out from the rest of the track, a contrast that helps draw the proper amount of attention to her smooth verse delivery. Her R&B-tinged stylings match the themes of loneliness and the lead for "salvation in love," even as she shift to on-beat and more intense vocals in the chorus. I also love the extended harmonies CamelPhat bring in during the second half of the chorus — sevenths and ninths can do so much to richen harmony and really draw people in to those key moments. All those elements and more make the break and the return of the main beat and more therein that much stronger and dance-inducing of a release.

I've talked about other house tracks about making me want to dance, but none of the others I've covered make me really want to move — not just jump around, but really get into the groove — like "Paradigm" does. I'm a sucker for tracks that really make you feel the differences and transitions between its various sections, and CamelPhat accomplish that and then some on what I still consider their best work. The duo are now top forces in the deep house world, and with productions like this it's easy to see why.


Postscript — holy remix pack, Batman: You'd be harder pressed to find a better remix pack than the half-dozen Axtone managed to get together for "Paradigm." Each put their own unique spin on the record, and even hearing them all back-to-back the various producers' voices are quite audible. I first gravitated toward Shapov's festival-ready progressive remix, but as of late I've come around more to Amtrac's Temptation Mix and CamelPhat's own Dark Dub, the latter of which has a good deal in common with their more recent productions.


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