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Jesper Dahlbäck

The continuing popularity of house music has something to do with its distinctive rhythm template — that relentless 4/4 thump borrowed from disco is like training wheels for bad dancers and a blank canvas for great producers. It’s the most malleable and forgiving of all electronic-music genres, eager and willing to accept converts, influences, and proselytizers from all sides of the faith.

Jesper Dahlbäck is a Swedish DJ who made his reputation playing dark techno, but he crosses over to the sunnier side of the street on this excellent deep-house mix CD. The disc is stocked with plenty of organic touches — bubbling funk bass lines, scattered Afro-percussion, and jazz-lite keyboard riffs — but Dahlbäck hasn’t totally forsaken his past. Stockholm Sessions retains a cool, detached, emotionally distant vibe — diva vocals are buried in bizarre effects, ecstatic climaxes never come, and everything is swathed in muted blue tones. He could be spinning from the bottom of the ocean, the gentle, sonorous tones interrupted by splashes of hi-hat and ripples of synthesizer. But the abstract sound sculpting and instrumental excursions are tempered with compelling vocal tracks that bring a touch of soul to the proceedings. The result is a rhythmically complex, expertly mixed, and emotionally balanced tech-house blend.


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