Crate Diggin’ – Adham Zahran (EGY) on Fantome de Nuit (LEB)

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Lebanese label Fantome de Nuit is back with another spacey jazzy-house record by Ahdam Zahran. Hailing all the way from Egypt, Adham is a rising talent in the London house scene, creating everything from interesting intricately layered deep house music to funked up disco cuts. His latest EP on Fantome De Nuit,Crate Diggin’, is a testament to all of that, bringing together all his different sounds and influences into one cohesive and balanced amalgam. Having already released on Moodmusic, Space Breaks, Galaktika, Lebanese label Feedasoul Records, this is definitely his biggest release to date, and it’s obvious why. The whole EP sounds really nice, it’s very easy to tell it was mixed and mastered on outboard gear. It’s rare to find music like this that is as well produced and sounds as nice as those anthemic Theo Parrish records, and this is one of them.

The EP starts off with a distant drum break on the opening track ‘Ashland Harbor’, probably re-sampled through a microphone at the other end of the room. The Rhodes that follow are a great juxtaposition between Lo-Fi aesthetics and pristine nu-jazz production. What proceeds is a journey through nu-jazz, deep house and space disco. Definitely an ideal opening track to get any well educated crowd in the mood.

Kicking straight into the title trackCrate Diggin ’ we find how influenced Adham is, taking filter house to new, unpretentious heights. Somehow, using the same 180° filter sweep effect in every track is not overplayed, as it’s always done in the background with interesting source material with an obvious functionality to create an interesting stereo field and space in the mix. I wish I knew which records he was sampling, as the techniques are so subtle yet subtractive, that I’d love to hear what’s remaining. Dusty scratches and are perfectly incorporated with analog drum machines and sampled drum-breaks to design this extremely experimental piece of jazz/house.

And it keeps getting better. ‘Can’t We Get Along’ is a true exploration in sound and music, delving into old-school drum machines, found sound, and sampled vinyl. Adding a touch of R&B vocals to fill in the gaps where the subtle drum-fills don’t, I find the production similar to the way artists play with intricacies in micro-house. Probably my favorite track on the album. Hypnotic, driving, yet still mellow and trippy.

Scratch that, ‘I Can’t Get Know (Melancholy)’ is my favorite. Call me ridiculous but I just love mistakes in music, and this track’s full of them. Calculated mistakes, obviously. Broken beat patterns, wonky house leads, little sounds here and there with no real functional raison d’etre, all brought together to create a coherent piece. Not an easy task, but Adham has done it all with class and style. In my opinion, his most forward-thinking track yet.

So yeah, if you dig REAL deep-house, cop this record on the ASAP:

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