The Rotterdam based 4Lux imprint is coming out with a surprisingly tasty EP by Dutchies Tim Miles and Jaap de Laat, who form Amsterdam’s duo LIFE on MARS. I had actually never heard of them, so I was pretty impressed with what they have brought to the table with their new EP Variety Playhouse.
The record kicks off with the ominous ‘Orange Sky’. A deep saw wave bass and equally raw stabs dominate the groove, which is led by a fresh percussion ensemble, and filled with a cool vocal part that falls right into place with the overall sound. The voice asks the listener: “Is there LIFE on MARS?”, nice touch guys. The dark progression comes to a sudden halt when pads try to strike a more hopeful mood, only to be cut down again by the returning bass. LoM made an effort in looking for a more unconventional deephouse sound with this one. They succeeded in doing just that.
The second production on Variety Playhouse, ‘Deeper Soul’, is my personal favourite. A rough, dirty kick, warm synth stabs and pads, combined with lush vocals, immediately set the brash, in-your-face semblance, letting you know that this is going to be one hell of a track right from the start. The drop is deadly, creating one of those rare moments in electronic music where you’d wish you could just store the moment you heard that certain, brilliant part of a track for the very first time, to experience it again and again. There isn’t much more I should say about it, really. It’s pure, uncut house that goes straight for the hips. The way it’s supposed to.
‘Around This Town’, the third recording, follows the same generic 4/4 house beat that ‘Deeper Soul’ has, with a sweet touch of the old school; throwing in crispy hi-hats, a rich, layered synth lead, along with 90’s-like vocals. The sound reminded me of Homework, a duo that is also very skilled in creating this type of naughty vintage deephouse.
LIFE on MARS chose their Amsterdam brothers Gijs van Willigen and Paul Veen of l’Atelier to do a remix of ‘Around this Town’. The result is a dubbed out version of the original, with a slightly lower energy level, creating more of a chilled vibe here, but identical in texture and equally danceable.
On the whole Variety Playhouse is a well-balanced and likewise produced EP. I can honestly say I liked every track on it, and I’m sure we will be hearing some of these tracks in the clubscene soon enough. There is one disappointment, however, the name LIFE on MARS isn’t based on the David Bowie song, which I had hoped for, but instead they told me it was their fixation with the cosmos that brought them to that choice. And because they met each other through their aerospace engineering study, which is actually pretty cool.
LIFE on MARS – Orange Sky
LIFE on MARS – Deeper Soul
LIFE on MARS – Around This Town (Original Mix)
LIFE on MARS – Around This Town (l’Atelier Remix)